On Monday, Maven, best known as the publisher of Sports Illustrated, announced that they had acquired sports news website The Spun.
The Spun, which was founded in September 2012 as College Spun, reportedly reaches an audience of 15 million readers per month and joins legacy brand Sports Illustrated as well as FanNation in the media publisher’s sports vertical. While the site began with a focus on college sports, it has since broadened its focus to cover all the pro and college sports news of the day.
“The acquisition of The Spun significantly expands our sports offerings for consumers,” said Ross Levinsohn, Maven & Sports Illustrated CEO, in the announcement. “Our sports properties including SI, FanNation, and now The Spun, will expand our audience, in particular, with a younger demographic and across social media.”
According to an SEC filing report related to the sale, Maven paid a total of $11 million for The Spun. A payment of $10 million was made to finalize the deal, while $500,000 will be paid on the first anniversary of the closing date and the final $500,000 expected on the second anniversary. The transaction closed on June 4, 2021, per the report.
“It is a dream to become part of an iconic sports brand like Sports Illustrated, and we look forward to leveraging Maven’s powerful platform to expand our reach and improve our profitability,” said Matt Lombardi, who co-founded The Spun and served as Editor in Chief, in the announcement.
Lombardi’s new role will be as Vice President/General Manager of Growth for Sports at Maven, where he reports to President of Media, Rob Barrett. The Spun brings 11 employees with them to Maven, all of whom are being retained, per Forbes.
The plan is to integrate The Spun into the existing Sports Illustrated content, though the brand will be retained in some way.
“We’re not going to change The Spun,” Levinsohn told Forbes. “They’re doing just fine on their own, and I think we can give them a little extra rocket boost inside what we’re doing here. We’re going to integrate them into our company, but we’re not going to do anything to change what they’re doing well.”
The publisher manages over 300 brands, including History, Maxim, Yoga Journal, SKI Magazine, and TheStreet. Their brief history as the owner of the Sports Illustrated brand is what has brought them into the public consciousness, for better or worse. After the company purchased SI, it was met with plenty of bad PR and pushback, especially when cuts gutted their vaunted writing staff. There were serious growing pains as new writers made errors and caused confusion that seemed out of step with the journalistic integrity of the brand. There were lawsuits, board of director concerns, calls for unionization, and more layoffs. But as much of that died down during the pandemic, Maven and its content strategy seem to have hit its stride under the radar.
Maven also announced on Monday that it had secured $20 million in equity financing commitments from new and existing institutional investors. Overall, they’ve raised over $40 million since Levinsohn became CEO. So whatever readers and industry people might think of Maven, they’re clearly moving in a positive direction for themselves and have their sights set on even bigger things.