The Athletic Trims Staff Thinned By Lack of Sports

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    • The Athletic has cut 8% of its staff as subscriber growth slows.

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Less than six months after raising an additional $50 million, The Athletic laid off about 8% of its staff. While The Athletic said its subscriber base is still growing, new subscriber growth is down 20-30% with podcasting revenue being severely impacted. To date, The Athletic has raised $139.5 million, which values the company at roughly $500 million.

Executives said the cuts were a last resort as they had tried to reduce travel, lessen freelance reporting and marketing spending, and leadership had already taken pay cuts. The lack of live sports has curtailed a year that was expected to end in a profit. 

The Athletic has reportedly looked into deals with sports betting companies to drive new revenue, a tactic being taken by a growing number of publishers and sports betting operators.

Athletic Downsizing:

  • Forty-six employees laid off, who will receive four weeks of salary and paid out unused PTO. Health insurance will be paid until the end of the year.
  • Staff-wide pay cuts, starting at 10%. Those making more than $150,000 will take progressively higher cuts.

The cuts at The Athletic rounded out a tough week for the sports journalism industry. Sports Illustrated publisher Maven Media Brands told its non-union employees they’d be taking a 15% salary cut, which follows the cutting of 6% of SI’s editorial staff in March. Vox Media, which owns sports site SB Nation in addition to other media properties, cut pay and furloughed 9% of its staff.