The New York Times will buy The Athletic for $550 million after months of talks, according to a new report from the Information.
Representatives for the storied newspaper and the subscription sports news website did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report, which pointed out that acquiring the smaller site will help the Times move toward its goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025. It currently has about 8.3 million and The Athletic has over 1.2 million.
The Athletic has been looking for a buyer for months. Initial talks with not only the Times, but Axios, fell through in 2020 and in September, the company hired LionTree investment bank as it looked for funding and explored a sale at a value that was estimated could reach $750 million.
“As a general matter of policy, we do not comment on rumors about potential acquisitions or divestitures,” a Times spokesperson told last spring, when news of the sports site’s interest in acquisition by the paper first broke. An Athletic rep said something similar at the time: “The Athletic does not comment on rumors or speculation in the market.”
In the summer of 2020, 8% of the Athletic’s staffers were laid off and all remaining staffers had their salaries temporarily cut as digital media suffered the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With sports on pause due to the ongoing pandemic, today we made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our staff in select coverage areas,” a representative told at the time, adding they were hopeful sports would resume (which they did) but the measure was “necessary to ensure that the company can weather the uncertainty that lies ahead.”