Sports site The Cauldron is no longer affiliated with Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated. Their website (which hasn’t published a story since Jan. 24) retained a “Presented By Sports Illustrated®” on its “About” page in the “Note from the editor” section for much of Tuesday, but that has since been replaced by “Athlete-direct content (and a whole lot more),” and while their Twitter bio still includes links to si.com, those are expected to disappear shortly.
A Time Inc. spokesperson told Awful Announcing Tuesday that “We had a limited licensing agreement with The Cauldron and upon routine review decided to move in a different direction.”
From the Time Inc. side, that’s been the only official comment so far on why they parted ways with The Cauldron. Cauldron founder and editor-in-chief Jamie O’Grady did not return a request for comment. While both sides are being tight-lipped about the split, an Awful Announcing source painted a picture of a strained relationship that ultimately proved to be untenable.
The Cauldron’s deal with SI/Time was a content-sharing arrangement, where SI sent them traffic and had the ability to occasionally syndicate content and The Cauldron’s content was rolled up into SI’s overall traffic numbers. That arrangement made some sense for both sides while everything was working well. It gave SI more content to be affiliated with and more importantly, more traffic, and also gave The Cauldron significant prestige thanks to the SI brand.
Since its launch in June 2014, The Cauldron has both produced interesting pieces and created some controversies. They’ve had an impressive cast of writers both on staff and as contributors, and they were one of the early sites published on Medium (and even under the medium.com domain for a while). Some of the pieces filed in their “Best Of” section include Colleen Curry’s look at covering the Jerry Sandusky trial, Clare McNear’s piece on joining Raider Nation, and Stephanie Wei’s news-making take on how her Periscope use got her temporarily banned from covering the PGA Tour.
The Cauldron also ran numerous athlete pieces, including ones from Steph Curry and Le’Veon Bell. It got a fair bit of attention, especially when it came to pieces picked up by or promoted by SI. There was some notable drama around the site as well, though, particularly when it came to O’Grady’s public feuds with Barstool, Vice, and Deadspin and to freelancer John Gorman’s tweets about the Dallas police shootings.
While there were some good moments for the Cauldron/SI partnership, Time’s decision to “move in a different direction” certainly indicates that pairing wasn’t working for them any more. It will be interesting to see what’s next for The Cauldron.
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