Sports Illustrated has welcomed a new owner following its $110m sale by Meredith Corporation to Authentic Brands Group, including its kids and swimsuit editions as well as its ‘sportsperson of the year’ franchise and photo archive.
The US magazine now finds itself under the auspices of a brand-development company that already oversees the management of parts of the Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali estates. However, in all other aspects, it will remain business as usual for the venerable title.
Detailed terms of the deal will see Meredith pay a licensing fee to continue to run the editorial operations for a minimum of two years, with the current team led by editor Chris Stone and publisher Danny Lee remaining in place.
Speaking to Variety Jon Werther, president of Meredith’s national media group, said: “We felt this was the best outcome for the brand, and gave it the greatest future growth potential.”
Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and chief exec of Authentic Brands, added: “Sports Illustrated is not just a magazine. It’s really a platform and it really stands for something that is hard – when you’re building brands – to get: It has authenticity. It has authority. It has respect. To earn that with a consumer, it’s not easy, right? Consumers are tough.”
In this way the group could leverage the capital of Sports Illustrated to diversify across areas such as medical clinics, sports training and gambling.
Sports Illustrated has proven a popular stomping ground for brands such as Snickers seeking to broaden their appeal.