The New York Times is taking its subscription expertise to The Athletic, hoping to learn from the US$550 million process.
The deal, expected to close by the end of March, should immediately boost revenue but may take three years to contribute to profits.
In a statement today, New York Times Company president and chief executive Meredith Kopit Levien says the acquisition of the global digital subscription-based sports media business “puts us in a position to be a global leader in sports journalism and offer English speakers around the world another reason to turn to the Times Company to meet their daily news and life needs”.
The deal creates the opportunity to offer “much more” for fans seeking a deep connection to and understanding of their favourite teams, leagues and players.
“With one of the largest dedicated teams of reporters covering sports globally and a commitment to everyday reporting, The Athletic is a great complement to The Times.”
The Times’ subscription success – doubling to more than eight million paid subscriptions across digital and print products in the last three years – has been an industry standout.
Levien says the deal will accelerate its ability to scale and deepen subscriber relationships as it pursues a goal “meaningfully larger than ten million subscriptions”. The Athletic will enable give the NYT “a more robust offering” to engage subscribers and convert more of its more than 100 million registered users. “Ultimately, The Athletic helps further our vision of making the New York Times the essential subscription for every person seeking to understand and engage with the world,” she says.
Headquartered in San Francisco, The Athletic was founded in January 2016 by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, who will stay on after the acquisition. It will continue to operate separately, with Mather and Hansmann reporting to NYT’s David Perpich, who has a record in helping scale subscription businesses including the core masthead and its products, and of Wirecutter.