There’s a notable new figure overseeing Sports Illustrated and associated sports sites. The Arena Group (formerly Maven, they changed to the new name last September), which operates SI under license from SI brand owner Authentic Brands Group, announced Thursday that they’ve hired Chris Pirrone as senior vice president and general manager of Sports Illustrated Media Group, a newly-created role. Pirrone was previously the general manager of Gannett’s USA Today Sports Media Group. Here’s more on this move from a release:
As GM of Sports, Pirrone will oversee the growth of The Arena Group’s portfolio of sports sites, known as Sports Illustrated Media Group, anchored by Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated Media Group has become the fifth-largest sports media property per April 2022 Comscore rankings, with traffic more than doubling over the prior year. The Arena Group sports vertical, spanning sports brands including FanNation, Morning Read, and Athlon Sports, delivered 253% more page views in Q1 2022 vs. 2021 and 265% more social page views in Q1 2022 vs. 2021, according to Google Analytics.
As General Manager at USA TODAY Sports Media Group, Pirrone launched over 75 sports vertical sites and led a significant expansion of the publisher’s digital advertising business across digital, social and mobile. He also grew audiences from 10M to 60M monthly Comscore unique viewers and increased revenue to over $100M annually.
“Chris Pirrone is a welcome addition with a phenomenal track record at USA Today Sports Media including sixfold audience growth, constant revenue innovations, and the growth of dozens of successful sports properties such as For The Win and Golfweek,” said Rob Barrett, President of Media for The Arena Group. “We are thrilled to have Chris lead the next wave of innovation at Sports Illustrated and The Arena Group’s sports vertical.”
Pirrone will start in June and report to Barrett. He previously held positions as General Manager of ad network Traffic Marketplace and General Counsel at Traffic Marketplace and ValueClick Inc. Pirrone has a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Lawrence University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Akron School of Law.
Pirrone had been at USA Today since 2012, so it’s certainly significant to see him moving on. It’s also interesting to see him joining Arena, and doing so in a role specifically centered on their sports properties. We’ll see what he brings to Arena, and what his hire means for Sports Illustrated and its associated sites.