Meredith Corp. has sold for $110 million the intellectual property around Sports Illustrated.
Meredith Inc. announced Monday night that it is selling Sports Illustrated to Authentic Brands Group, a brand development company, for $110 million. Meredith Corporation will continue to publish the print magazine and website.
After decades of chronicling stellar match-ups, blow-outs, squeakers, sudden deaths and famous photo galleries is now getting ready to take on a whole new kind of game with the brand-development company that manages Juicy Couture, Nautica, and elements of the Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley estates, among others.
Sports Illustrated was put up for sale last year along with Time, Fortune and Money magazines, which Meredith acquired via its purchase of Time Inc.
According to Variety, under terms of the deal, Authentic Brands acquires the rights to market, develop and license Sports Illustrated and its kids’ edition as well as its swimsuit and “Sportsperson of the Year” franchises, along with the magazine’s photo archive. Meredith will pay a licensing fee to operate the editorial operations of Sports Illustrated in print and in digital for a minimum of two years. Editor Chris Stone and Publisher Danny Lee will continue to lead Sports Illustrated at Meredith.
Meredith thinks investing in entertainment and lifestyle brands creates a closer path to profit than investing in news and sports brands, which can be harder to monetize in the internet era.
Executives at Meredith told the Wall Street Journal last week that they are banking on growing sources of revenue from its entertainment properties through things like content licensing, live events and online retailing.
As the magazine and print advertising is facing steep decline in the digital age, many businesses, especially publications, are seeing themselves forced to reimagine their distribution and see how they can continue to grow.
Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of Authentic Brands, has envisioned possibilities for the 1954 sports journalism publication ranging from Sports Illustrated medical clinics and sports-skills training classes to a gambling business and better use of the magazine’s vast photo library.
“We always stay close to the DNA and the heritage of the brand (…) Granted, we will go beyond, but we will always remember sort of how we go there (…) Sports Illustrated is not just a magazine. It’s really a platform and it really stands for something that is hard.”