Sports Illustrated

A majority interest in the Arena Group, the publisher of Sports Illustrated and other brands, has been sold.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Manoj Bhargava has purchased 65% of Arena Group through his Simplify Inventions company for $50 million. Additionally, Simplify has guaranteed $60 million in advertising from a “group of consumer brands” it owns over the next five years.

One of Bhargava’s companies, Simplify Inventions, will take an approximately 65% stake in the Arena Group, which beyond Sports Illustrated is home to media brands including Men’s Journal. As part of the deal, Arena will get a $50 million investment. The deal also includes a five-year guaranteed advertising commitment of approximately $60 million from a group of consumer brands also owned by Simplify. 

Arena will assume oversight of various media properties owned by Bhargava, including 24-hour news TV channels NEWSnet and Sports News Highlights, as well as media brands Driven and TravelHost. Arena will oversee programming and advertising for the channels, and generate revenue from those functions, it said.   

“Like most in the media world, the greater reach you have, the more opportunity you have,” said Arena chief executive Ross Levinsohn. “This dramatically accelerates our path to being a diversified media company featuring great brands.” 

Bhargava founded and launched 5-Hour Energy in 2004. He has also financed the production company Bleecker Street and purchased NEWSnet, a 24-hour news station, in 2022.

Two months ago, advertising conglomerate Group Black was looking to buy a majority stake in Arena Group. However, that deal failed to come to fruition, allowing Bhargava and Simplify to step in and take the majority share in Arena Group, including Sports Illustrated.

[Wall Street Journal]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.