A wall of Sports Illustrated covers Gary Cosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News, via USA Today Sports

For a minute there, it seemed like Sports Illustrated might not make it.

Thanks to the chaos and drama surrounding former publisher Arena Group earlier this year, the SI brand was mired in mass layoffs, corporate infighting, and the very real possibility that it would cease to exist.

Then, Minute Media swooped in, acquiring the license to publish SI for 10 years. The technology and media company that had built its portfolio with sports outlets such as FanSided, The Players Tribune, and 90min was positioned to be SI’s savior. Some of the outlet’s biggest names stuck around or returned while Minute moved the puzzle pieces around to figure out how to keep the iconic brand on track.

According to Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief Steve Cannella, so far, it’s working.

“Minute has been extremely welcoming to SI,” Cannella told Axios. “I think the culture here is fantastic. We feel extremely supported. I think it feels like we’re getting back to normal.”

Axios also reports that “the vast majority of employees who were laid off during the transition of Sports Illustrated’s publishing rights from The Arena Group earlier this year have been rehired.”

While SI is bringing back its storied print edition, the newest of which will hit newsstands on June 27, Cannella says that the focus now is figuring out how to connect better with its audience, wherever they are.

“What we want to do is redefine what it means to be an SI writer, and lean into the ability that a lot of our talent has to be multi-platform personalities,” he told Axios.

While Sports Illustrated has certainly taken some lumps in recent years, Cannella feels like the admiration and appreciation for the brand has plenty of people rooting for them.

“There’s a level of goodwill out there among audiences for this brand,” Cannella said. “And now it’s time for us to start delivering to them in ways that they want… And I think that that makes the future really bright.”


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.