The Sports Illustrated website on March 22, 2024. The Sports Illustrated website on March 22, 2024. (

While The Arena Group is no longer publishing Sports Illustrated, the switch to new publisher Minute Media has been anything but smooth. Minute’s deal with SI owner Authentic Brands Group was announced Monday, and the website actually changed hands Thursday. But it did so with a crash where it was unavailable at all for a while, and also featured a story from Sunday as its lead story for much of the day. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s gone wrong there so far.

Front Office Sports’ A.J. Perez reported Thursday that this came with an abrupt email from Arena to staffers Thursday that they would “stop publishing” SI content immediately, and that Arena sports content outside the SI umbrella would move to their Athlon Sports site. The Arena logo then came off the SI site, and then the site crashed before it relaunched under Minute. Minute sources used the term “sabotage” to Perez, but Arena offered similar accusations in reverse in a company-wide email. And both offered comment to Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post Friday:

In a statement to The Post, an Arena Group spokesperson said the company met with Minute Media on Wednesday and claimed that “Minute Media advised that, since they’re a tech company, they would only need an hour to take over the site. To help ensure the success of the transition, we provided them with 24 hours.”

However, a source with knowledge of Minute Media’s operations told The Post that the company had hoped for a significantly longer transition period between Arena Group and Minute so that the SI site could be migrated over to the latter’s platform.

Instead, there was no baton handoff at all, and Arena Group shut down the website on Thursday night, the source said.

Minute Media’s tech team was able to relaunch the site relatively quickly, and it is back live.

A Minute Media spokesperson declined to comment to The Post.

A bumpy website handoff is one thing, but there’s a lot more going on here. Perez added Friday that Arena was continuing to use SI branding on their Athlon Sports site even after this transition. (The SI logo in the screenshot below no longer appears on the Athlon Sports “Showcase” page, which appears to be largely about promoting and/or reviewing different products, but it does still include “SI Tickets” and “SI Shop” links at the top of the page.)

And even more notably, Perez also reported that Arena made an attempt to take control of the domain name and several social media accounts. He added that they lock SI staffers out of Google Suite accounts connected to their corporate email addresses:

Technical site issues around a handover are one thing. Trying to take the SI domain name and social accounts is a much more serious accusation. With those attempts not panning out, there may not be anything more to come from that specifically, but that isn’t an accusation many would like made about their publishing company. However, when the Post‘s Glasspiegel asked Arena for comment on those allegations, they only referred him to their earlier statement (included above). It is worth noting that in the previous transition, Arena obtained significant services from past SI owner and publisher Meredith for quite some time, so much so that Meredith eventually sued

At any rate, the SI homepage now looks much more like what you’d expect, with current stories on the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, NFL and NBA news, and more. So the domain-specific bit of Arena-Minute unpleasantness may be largely resolved. However, there are lots of questions ahead. There’s uncertainty over what’s next for those SI employees, with Minute only saying to date “some” SI staffers would be brought back (all union staffers were laid off by Arena after Authentic pulled Arena’s publishing license over a missed payment in January, with some layoffs immediate and some delayed due to state warning requirements).

There’s also uncertainty about the associated FanNation team sites. Those sites could continue under Minute, or some or all of the people there could be rolled into the similar FanSided network (which Minute bought from Meredith in 2020). But Arena has reportedly also made a pitch to those writers, as has former Arena CEO Jim Heckman (whose background includes lots of time launching and running team site networks such as Scout and Rivals).

So there’s still a lot to be resolved at SI. But it’s certainly interesting to see how bumpy the transition from Arena to Minute has been so far.

[A.J. Perez on Twitter/X, The New York Post]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.