The intellectual property of America’s most successful sports publication, Sports Illustrated has been sold for $110 million to a management company that focuses on fashion, entertainment, and sports brands, including the marketing rights to some of the world’s famous athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Muhammad Ali.
Meredith, Inc. cashed-in the hefty amount of money but still has the rights to publish the print version of the magazine, including the website, SI.com, for the next two years. The editorial structure remains the same, and the team will still have editorial independence amidst the sale.
The deal lets Sports Illustrated grow in new areas such as esports, while Meredith can continue to “produce independent, award-winning journalism and storytelling,” Sports Illustrated Editor-in-Chief Chris Stone said in a statement.
Other terms of the sale agreement are not disclosed especially the future of the magazine after the two-year licensing agreement between Meredith and Authentic Brands Group, the buyer of Sports Illustrated’s intellectual property, but rumors are around that the two will most likely continue and renew the contract.
The magazine is “so essential in the psyche of sports,” said Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “I don’t think Sports Illustrated is going anywhere soon,” Husni said.
Meredith is confident that they can pull off publishing Sports Illustrated even if it’s now under a licensing agreement as the company has long since published Martha Stewart Living Magazine under the same model.
“We believe we will have similar, great success developing the vitality and profitability of Sports Illustrated,” Meredith spokeswoman Jill Davidson said. She said that for now, the two companies are “partners” and who “achievable and ambitious goals to meet” and will evaluate the partnership after two years. She said there are no plans to change the magazine’s frequency.
Meanwhile, Meredith’s stock slipped down $2.14 to $52.57 today following the news of the sale.