The New York Times Renews Interest in Buying The Athletic

    • The The Times and The Athletic broke off negotiation talks in June.
    • The Athletic tapped LionTree to help facilitate a sale in September.

Today's Action

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The New York Times has resumed acquisition talks with The Athletic, sources told Front Office Sports. 

Negotiations between The Times and the sports news website broke down without a deal in June. The Athletic tapped investment banking firm LionTree in September in hopes of reaping as much as $800 million in sale. 

The Athletic has a valuation of about $500 million and has raised nearly $140 million in funding since it was founded nearly six years ago. The company has yet to turn a profit. Like many companies, The Athletic’s growth was slowed by the global pandemic.  

The Times and The Athletic declined comment on the negotiations when reached by FOS. 

Why Acquisition Makes Sense 

While The Athletic has garnered interest from Axios and sports betting giants like DraftKings, experts said the site’s subscription model meshes best with The Times. 

  • The Times had 7.6 million digital subscriptions as of its fiscal third quarter, up 455,000 from the prior quarter. The company has a goal of 10 million digital subscribers by 2025. 
  • One way to get to that number is via an acquisition. The Athletic had 1.2 million subscribers as of September. 
  • The Athletic has been bullish in adding to its subscriber count, offering steep discounts to its $71.99 per year rate. 

Beyond seeking a buyer, The Athletic has instituted several structural changes, which included cutting back coverage in certain markets and sports.