New York Times Acquires The Athletic for $550 million

    • NYT bolsters its digital subscription count by more than a million in deal.
    • The two sides were in negotiations last summer before talks broke down.

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The Athletic CEO and co-founder Alex Mather once said that he wanted to let the newspaper industry “continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing.” 

On Thursday the sports subscription site was acquired by a newspaper company as The New York Times agreed to purchase The Athletic for $550 million, The Times announced in a news release after the markets closed Thursday.

The all-cash deal is expected to close in the first quarter. The Information was the first outlet to report the sale.

The sale price — although well under the $800 million sources told Front Office Sports executives at the company were seeking in a sale — will mean investors outside those in the last round raised ($50 million in January 2020) will see a sizable return. 

FOS was the first to report that the talks between The Times and Athletic, which stalled last summer, were back on. 

How They Will Mesh

  • There’s no word on how the two will bundle subs into one monthly or annual subscription. The Athletic costs $71.99 per year, although many subscribers pay a much-reduced rate. 
  • The Athletic had more than 600 employees as of September. Sources told FOS that Mather and co-founder Adam Hansmann were adamant about keeping all employees as part of a deal. 
  • The Times newsroom is represented by NewsGuild of New York and the union would likely seek to bring journalists at The Athletic into the fold. 

The acquisition bolsters The Times’ aim to rack up 10 million digital subscribers by 2025. As of September, The Athletic — which has yet to turn a profit — had 1.2 million subscribers. 

The New York Times Co. currently has a market cap of $7.9 billion.