Sports Illustrated Arena Group The University of Alabama showed off renovations to Bryant Denny Stadium Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Sports Illustrated covers decorate the walls inside the new press box. [Gary Cosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News, via USA Today Sports.]

After months of turmoil, a new era at Sports Illustrated is underway.

According to Benjamin Mullin of The New York Times, Minute Media has reached a deal with Authentic Brands Group to become the new publisher of SI. The agreement is reportedly for 10 years, with options that could stretch the deal’s length to 30 years, as Sports Illustrated joins Minute Media’s portfolio, which also includes The Players’ Tribune and Fansided.

While financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed, Authentic Brands Group — which owns SI’s intellectual property — is reportedly taking a stake in Minute Media as part of the deal.

“In the current era of digital, it’s still not trivial and quite difficult to build your own brand and get people to know and admire it,” Minute Media CEO and founder Asad Peled told The Times. “So once you get the opportunity to work with and grow an iconic brand like Sports Illustrated, you take it.”

The agreement for Minute Media to become SI‘s new publisher comes nearly two months to the day that Authentic Brands Group revoked its license from previous publisher, The Arena Group over a missed payment. That resulted in notices of mass layoffs for most of SI‘s employees with Peled telling The Times that the company planned to rehire at least some of the fired staff.

While it’s unclear how many staff members Minute Media will be rehiring and what the development means for SI‘s biggest names (and salaries), Peled also said that the company plans to continue the magazine’s print edition and expand the magazine’s publishing operations globally. Just last week, The Arena Group — which had remained SI‘s publisher — told staff that the May issue would be the magazine’s final print edition, a claim that Authentic Brands Group disputed.

The deal between Minute Media and ABG brings an end to Arena Group’s tumultuous tenure as Sports Illustrated‘s publisher, which first began in 2019. Over the course of that five-year period, Sports Illustrated saw multiple shifts in strategy, layoffs and PR nightmares, including the alleged use of AI-generated content.

Conversely, Peled told The Times that he wants “to continue Sports Illustrated’s tradition of in-depth journalism,” a Minute Media takes over the outlet’s operations this week.

“It’s an exception to our core strategy,” he said of the deal. “But it’s not the first time we’ve done that.”

[The New York Times]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.