Popular American sports magazine, Sports Illustrated, has been sold to Authentic Brands Group for US$110 million, to help the media company pay down its US$1.4 billion debt.
US media company Meredith, owner of Sports Illustrated, accrued the debt to finance its US$1.85 billion acquisition of Time Inc in a deal that closed in January 2018.
The transaction incorporates most of Sports Illustrated’s print, broadcast and digital portfolio – including its magazine titles, mobile app, and the SI TV over-the-top (OTT) service – though excludes the FanSided digital news platform, which Meredith is still in the process of selling.
Following the sale of its Sports Illustrated property, Meredith will have paid down close to US$900 million of its acquired debt, due by 2026, and intends to pay another US$100 million by the end of September this year after completing the sale of FanSided and also Viant, its digital advertising offering.
“This strategic partnership brings a new approach to media brand development, and we’re excited to leverage Meredith and Authentic Brands’ respective strengths to enhance and build upon Sports Illustrated’s undeniable value,” Meredith’s chief development officer, John Zieser, said.
“We will also combine our world-class media platform and consumer audience with ABG’s brand development, marketing and licensing expertise to develop other media-driven opportunities across the company’s portfolio.”
Going forward, Meredith will pay Authentic Brands an undisclosed licensing fee to continuing operating the Sports Illustrated print magazine and website for a minimum of two years.
As part of the deal, Authentic Brands will also secure ownership of two million images from Sports Illustrated’s archive, which has represented the backbone to the publication since its inception since 1954.