Sports Illustrated Will Live On Under a UK Sports Media Startup

The storied magazine will now publish under Minute Media, which owns other sports media companies.

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated will live on under a new publisher. Mario Tama/Getty Images

After a tumultuous few months for Sports Illustrated, the storied magazine is moving under a new publisher, and its new license owner promises to bring back some of the magazine’s laid-off workers and keep its print version alive for at least 10 years. 

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Authentic Brands Group, which bought Sports Illustrated in 2019 and licensed the magazine’s publishing rights to The Arena Group until revoking them in January, has licensed those rights to Minute Media, a British digital media company founded and led by Asaf Peled, an Israeli tech investor turned sports media owner, The New York Times reported today (March 18). The licensing agreement will stretch for 10 years with an option to extend for up to 30 years.

Minute Media owns Fansided, a sports newsletter site, and The Players’ Tribune, a sports media platform founded by baseball star and businessman Derek Jeter. 

Sports Illustrated was about to reach a dead end in January when it announced a layoff of the majority of its staff. The publication was already in trouble following a scandal in November, when the tech news site Futurism reported that the magazine was publishing articles generated by artificial intelligence (A.I.) without proper disclosure and that its then publisher The Arena Group was deleting the posts instead of acknowledging them. 

The sale will allow Minute Media to operate Sports Illustrated for at least 10 years. Peled told The New York Times in an interview that he plans to hire back some of the laid-off Sports Illustrated workers and that he would continue the magazine’s print book.

With this deal we will oversee all digital and print publications of Sports Illustrated, who has been the industry leader in dedicated sports journalism for decades,” Peled said in a LinkedIn post this morning. “We plan to leverage our premium sports content expertise as well as our technology platform to continue to grow the Sports Illustrated business.” 

Peled also told the Times he planned to focus on “short-form sports content” for mobile devices, including video, audio and text. “In the current era of digital, it’s still not trivial and quite difficult to build your own brand and get people to know and admire it,” Peled said. “So once you get the opportunity to work with and grow an iconic brand like Sports Illustrated, you take it.”

Sports Illustrated Will Live On Under a UK Sports Media Startup