Sports Illustrated to Cease Publication?

One iconic cultural institution after another has collapsed in recent years, but this still seems shocking: while news accounts are somewhat confusing, it appears that all or nearly all employees of Sports Illustrated magazine have received layoff notices. Sports Illustrated belongs to Authentic Brands Group, which licensed the magazine to Arena Group Holdings. The present layoffs apparently are the result of Arena’s failing to make its quarterly license payment.

Hollywood Reporter has the most coherent account of today’s news that I have seen:

On Friday the storied publication Sports Illustrated began laying off staffers en masse as the outlet’s union warned that “possibly all” of its guild-represented staffers could be affected.
The layoffs come after Arena Group Holdings failed to make a $3.75 million quarterly licensing payment to Authentic Brands Group, according to a securities filing earlier this month.
It is not immediately clear what will happen to the magazine if ABG takes back control of the publication. ABG had licensed the SI brand for other commercial ventures (including an SI-branded online sportsbook and a group of resort hotels), but indicated back in 2019 that it was not interested in operating a news publication when it licensed the publication rights to Arena (which at the time was called Maven).

It recently came to light that SI was publishing AI-generated content that was attributed to non-existent writers, no doubt a sign that the publication was in deep trouble.

As one who grew up reading SI as a kid, it is hard to imagine the magazine could really cease publication. But that may be in the cards.

Like almost all other “mainstream” publications, SI has gone politically correct, and now, in recent years, woke. I have no idea whether this contributed to the magazine’s apparent demise. Perhaps the economics of magazine publishing, like the economics of newspaper publishing, simply don’t work any longer. In any event, it seems that another cultural icon may be disappearing.

STEVE adds: Gee—I wonder if it might be something they did?

Gee—I wonder if it’s something they did wrong.

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