As iconic sports media brands go, fewer have fallen faster than Sports Illustrated. There's a chance it could soon be bottoming out and/or disappearing altogether.
Mass layoffs are happening there. The union representing certain SI employees posted on X that The Arena Group plans to lay off "a significant number, possibly all, of the [NewsGuild]-represented workers at SI."
Via A.J. Perez of FrontOfficeSports.com, Authentic Brands Group terminated Arena’s license to publish SI, after Arena missed a $2.8 million payment.
Arena informed employees of the situation on Friday, via email.
"We were notified by Authentic Brands Group (ABG) that the license under which the Arena Group operates the Sports Illustrated (SI) brand and SI related properties has been officially revoked by ABG," the email explains, via Perez. "As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand.
“Some employees will be terminated immediately, and paid in lieu of the applicable notice period under the [the union contract]. Employees with a last working day of today will be contacted by the People team soon. Other employees will be expected to work through the end of the notice period, and will receive additional information shortly.”
Authentic Brands still holds the rights to SI. It could license publication power to someone else, or it could renegotiate its deal with Arena.
Regardless, it's currently the latest mess for SI. Last year, reports surfaced of SI posting content generated by artificial intelligence. In the end, it looks like one of the strongest brands in media will be taken down by genuine stupidity.