Sports Illustrated Has a New Publisher, Digital Company TheMaven



The digital platform company TheMaven has bought the right to publish Sports Illustrated — digitally and in print — for at least the next 10 years, ending the former owner Meredith’s relationship with Sports Illustrated a few weeks after the landmark magazine’s intellectual property was sold to the Authentic Brands Group, TheMaven and Meredith announced Monday.

TheMaven, based in Seattle, also announced the creation of Sports Illustrated Media, to be run by the veteran media industry executive Ross Levinsohn, a former publisher of The Los Angeles Times.

While the price was undisclosed, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing said that TheMaven had already paid $45 million to Authentic Brands. The two companies will also share revenues.

“The two companies will be partnering in building the brand worldwide,” the filing said.

Authentic Brands, a licensing company, is run by the entrepreneur Jamie Salter. A significant portion of its business comes from its deals to represent the estates of dead-but-still-lucrative celebrities like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali.

Last month, Mr. Salter’s company paid $110 million for the intellectual property of Sports Illustrated to Meredith, a magazine giant based in Iowa, which acquired the publication as part of its 2017 purchase of Time Inc. Under the terms of the deal, Meredith would continue to publish the Sports Illustrated website and biweekly magazine in exchange for an undisclosed licensing fee. Now TheMaven becomes the publisher of Sports Illustrated.

“Meredith’s goal of a completed transaction is achieved,” Meredith said in a statement.

The end of Meredith’s stewardship of Sports Illustrated concludes a period of transition for the company, which specializes in lifestyle publications. After buying Time Inc.’s stable for $2.8 billion, it sold Time magazine to the software titan Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynn, for $190 million; that deal was followed by the $150 million sale of Fortune magazine to Chatchaval Jiaravanon, whose family controls one of Thailand’s largest companies.

Mr. Levinsohn, who will be the chief executive and publisher of Sports Illustrated Media, had a rocky tenure at The Los Angeles Times, where he was put on leave after National Public Radio reported he had been the subject of two sexual harassment allegations at earlier jobs. After an investigation found no wrongdoing at The Los Angeles Times, he was reinstated at the newspaper’s parent company at the time.

The top editor of Sports Illustrated, Chris Stone, who started at the magazine in 1992, has been in charge of the editorial side since 2016.


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