The New York Times Company has reached an agreement to buy The Athletic, the online sports news outlet with 1.2 million subscriptions, in an all-cash deal valued at $550 million, The Times said on Thursday.
The deal brings The Times, which has more than eight million total subscriptions, quickly closer to its goal of having 10 million subscriptions by 2025, while also offering its audience more in-depth coverage of the more than 200 professional teams in North America, Britain and Europe that are closely followed by The Athletic’s journalists.
Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief executive of the Times Company, called The Athletic “a great complement to The Times.”
“We are now in pursuit of a goal meaningfully larger than 10 million subscriptions and believe The Athletic will enable us to expand our addressable market of potential subscribers,” she said.
Under Times ownership, The Athletic will be operated separately from The Times’s newsroom and its sports section, the company said. The publisher will be David Perpich, a longtime senior executive at The Times who has been a leader of its Cooking and Games apps, as well as the product recommendation site Wirecutter.
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Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, who started The Athletic in 2016, will stay on after the acquisition. Mr. Mather, currently the site’s chief executive, will become general manager and co-president; Mr. Hansmann, now The Athletic’s president, will be its chief operating officer and co-president.
“We started The Athletic to bring fans closer to the teams, players and leagues they love through deep, immersive journalism and storytelling,” Mr. Mather and Mr. Hansmann said in a statement on Thursday. “Today marks a thrilling milestone for that dream, one realized because of the hard work of every single one of our employees. We are proud to have The Athletic become part of the Times Company’s family of subscription products.”
Mr. Mather and Mr. Hansmann, formerly colleagues at the fitness tracking app Strava, started The Athletic in the belief that die-hard fans were not finding the coverage they craved at a time when newspapers were in decline, Sports Illustrated was undergoing an ownership change and ESPN began laying off journalists.
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