Authentic Brands Group has snagged one of the most iconic names in sports media, inking a deal to purchase Sports Illustrated for $110 million from Meredith Corp.
The company announced the deal late in the day on the Memorial Day holiday.
Under the terms of the deal, ABG will assume the marketing, business development and licensing functions for the Sports Illustrated intellectual property and brand, while Meredith will continue to operate the print magazine and web site under editor-in-chief Chris Stone and publisher Danny Lee for at least the next two years.
This confirms a story in WWD that said ABG’s purchase of the magazine would be primarily a licensing play.
Stone said the two companies will work together “to build a premium sports platform” that will include “events and conferences, licensing, gambling and gaming, IP development, especially in video and TV, to name a few, all while continuing to benefit from Meredith’s industry-leading track record in operating media companies.”
“We are delighted to find a great home for Sports Illustrated with ABG, one of the world’s premier brand owners and licensors,” said Jon Werther, president of Meredith National Media Group. “Additionally, we are excited about the opportunity to fully integrate Sports Illustrated’s print and digital products into Meredith’s operations. We believe our proven expertise in content creation and sales and marketing will greatly enhance the vitality and profitability of these channels.”
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“We are honored to welcome Sports Illustrated to the ABG family,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of ABG. “As one of the most iconic brands in sports media, SI is a cultural centerpiece with massive opportunities for growth across its burgeoning digital, TV and social platforms and industry-leading print magazine. SI’s trusted name and fiercely devoted following set the stage for the brand to become a leader in lifestyle and entertainment.”
Nick Woodhouse, president and chief marketing officer of ABG, said the plan is “to extend Sports Illustrated’s legacy and connect the brand with new audiences around the world.”
Sports Illustrated is the most-read sports magazine in the world, with a total audience of more than 120 million consumers.
The deal includes SI’s associated brands including Sports Illustrated Kids, Sportsperson of the Year, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, SI and SI TV. The transaction does not include the FanSided digital platform, which Meredith is currently in the process of selling.
ABG also acquires the rights to over 2 million images as part of Sports Illustrated’s archive of owned photography.
Meredith acquired Sports Illustrated as part of its purchase of Time Inc. on Jan. 31, 2018.