Sports Illustrated Makes Massive Staff Cuts Four Months After Sale To Authentic Brands

By Bruce Haring, Anita Bennett

Sports Illustrated is undergoing drastic staff cuts. Today, the venerable media outlet trimmed as many as 40 staff members, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

Employees were told late today that “their positions were being eliminated,” according to the WSJ.  The cuts could represent as many as half of the staff. The exact number of layoffs is unclear.

In May, Meredith Corp. sold Sports Illustrated for $110 million to Authentic Brands Group, a global brand development, marketing and entertainment company that manages Juicy Couture, Nautica, and holds the licensing and trademark rights for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.

Sports Illustrated, which is often referred to simply as SI, was first published in 1954 and claims to be read by more than 23 million people each week. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence twice.

The magazine is best known for its annual swimsuit issue, which purports to preview new swimwear styles using models in exotic locations.

Under terms of the May sales deal, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) acquired the rights to market and license Sports Illustrated, its swimsuit edition, kids’ edition, “Sportsperson of the Year” and SI TV, along with the magazine’s photo archive. The agreement terms saw Meredith continue to operate the Sports Illustrated print magazine and for a minimum of two years, and pay ABG a licensing fee.

“We are honored to welcome Sports Illustrated to the ABG family,” Authentic Brands Founder, Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said in a statement on Monday, May 27. “As one of the most iconic brands in sports media, SI is a cultural centerpiece with massive opportunities for growth across its burgeoning digital, TV and social platforms and industry-leading print magazine.”

Meredith acquired SI as part of its purchase of Time Inc. for $1.85 billion on January 31, 2018, and immediately put Time magazine, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated up for sale.

That left People and Entertainment Weekly as prominent titles staying in the fold at Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith, whose portfolio includes female-skewing consumer titles like Better Homes and Gardens.


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