Is Sports Illustrated Circling the Drain?

Sure looks like it:


More likely well on the way down to visiting the Titanic.


Like featuring 300 lb. women and cross dressers in the Swimsuit issue really helped your brand.

Per my wife, go woke, go broke.


I didn’t realize Sports Illustrated was still an actual entity with employees etc. Would have assumed that like most legacy print outlets, it’s now just a brand name owned by some conglomerate with shared/non-exclusive online content.

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The early sign for the public that SI was in serious trouble was the scandal a few months back of having a non-human writing stories, basically using AI to crank out content under a pseudonym.

Maybe it’s a mini-Guilded Age for media and private equity is trying to squeeze the SI brand for every red penny, but unquestionably, the media market is in a period of severe weather.

For example, I’m not sure exactly what the intended results are here: Los Angeles Times Journalists Walk Out To Protest Planned Layoffs – Deadline

If I squint hard enough, maybe these LA Times employees are trying to shock that part of the public who remembers the previous century into taking another look at a historic institution?

[Unrelated, check out this story of a crypto fund whose CEO was completely fictional. Chief executive of collapsed crypto fund HyperVerse does not appear to exist | Cryptocurrencies | The Guardian In this case, I suspect they’re simply crooks who wanted a safe exit strategy]


This is pretty much what it has been the last few years. The Arena Group who is publishing the mag and website pays a licensing fee to Authentic Brands Group, a company that owns a bunch of brand names you know, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, Rockport, etc., as well as managing the brand for Shaq and the Muhammed Ali estate.

Essentially Arena Group missed a $3 million something licensing payment, so Authentic Brands canceled the license. It is certainly possible that Authentic Brands can find a new licensee (probably at a reduced price to what Arena Group was spending).

Truthfully, as said earlier, it has been dying for years which is not the fault of what I think are some of the best sports writers anywhere, such as, John Wertheim, Pat Forde, and Tom Verducci. In the end it is unlikely that the SI brand has any real value anymore, which makes this old guy very sad, but for the Gen-Z and Millenials, no big deal as they are probably saying SI who?


Too bad. 30+ years years ago SI was the Sports mag to read. I remember as a boy they serialized Ted Williams’ autobiography, “My Turn at Bat.” My dad subscribed and I looked forward to every issue. I subscribed myself for years but stopped after we had kids and the swimsuit issue got far too racy for my blood.

The mag to read was The Sporting News, the bible of baseball. Coverage of all teams, and complete statistics for all minor league teams. SI had broader coverage, but not as in depth. Sport Magazine was a distant third.

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True, for MLB fans. I was just generally interested in sports, NFL and college football, basketball, baseball track, Olympics, golf, all of that. (I certainly wasn’t interested in soccer, and I’m still not.) I liked the essays, too, and the great writers.

SI was at its apex during the 1970’s and 80’s.

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Even through the 90s, but it’s been a long long time since I read a story in it that I thought separated it from the pack.

I’ll always be grateful for SI introducing me to Kathy Ireland.


Among many, many others.


A quick summary of what happened:

In mid-January, Sports Illustrated announced that its entire staff faced being laid off — many immediately, some over the next couple of months while management figured out if there could still be a Sports Illustrated.

The magazine’s publisher, Arena Group, five years ago sold the rights to the SI brand for $110 million to a licensing group called Authentic. In return, Arena would pay Authentic a quarterly fee to keep using the SI brand. They missed their last payment and the agreement was terminated, leaving Arena without a magazine to publish.

In other words, SI blew through $110 million in five years on top of whatever other revenue the magazine generated.

SI started with a large fortune and now doesn’t even own its name.

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Looks like they may be past circling the drain.

Sports Illustrated’s tumultuous breakup with its publisher caused the magazine to skip production of the May edition – leaving more than 1 million subscribers with empty mailboxes last month, The Post has learned.

Arena Group – which had its license revoked in January after failing to make a $3.75 million quarterly payment to rights-holder Authentic Brands – refuses to turn over the subscriber list to new publisher Minute Media, three sources close to the situation told The Post.

By the letter of its contract, Arena – controlled by 5-Hour Energy founder Manoj Bhargava – does not believe it needs to share the SI subscriber list, sources said.

Authentic sued Arena for $48 million for backing out on the remaining three years of the deal, and Bhargava might use the subscriber list as part of negotiating leverage in potential settlement talks, one of the sources speculated.

Arena Group and Authentic Brands declined to comment.

Minute Media did not return calls.

The disruption – believed to be the first skipped issue in the magazine’ 70-year history – was further fueled by Arena firing about 100 SI employees as part of its negotiating tactics with Authentic.

Bhargava had even threatened to kill the print edition of the iconic magazine after learning Authentic owner Jamie Salter was leaning toward awarding the rights to Minute Media, as The Post previously reported.

The last monthly issue printed was the April 2024 baseball preview edition with Shohei Ohtani on the cover – which was mailed to SI’s roughly 1 million paid and non-paid subscribers before the handover. Arena continued publishing SI after its license was terminated while attempting to regain the rights.

Is Sports Illustrated Circling the Drain? - Media Smack -