The Arena Group, publisher of SI, failed to make a $3.75 million payment to Authentic, the license holder of SI, resulting in Authentic terminating the deal.
The turmoil within the unpredictable journalism industry has now engulfed Sports Illustrated. Most of the magazine’s staff was let go on Jan. 19. This occurred after the Arena Group, a company with Sports Illustrated in its extensive portfolio, failed to fulfill its $3.75 million quarterly payment to Authentic Brands Group (ABG). Due to a dispute between ABG, which holds the Sports Illustrated brand license, and the Arena Group prompted the latter to withhold its payment, Axios reports. Now the future of the magazine brand is in limbo.
Former Arena Group CEO Ross Levinsohn told Axios that what he was witnessing was professionally disappointing, saying, “The actions of this board and the actions against Sports Illustrated’s storied brand and newsroom are the last straw. An incredible team spent years rebuilding great brands like SI through very challenging times. To watch in horror what is transpiring now is one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever witnessed in my professional life.”
According to Axios, ABG is in discussions with the Arena Group to renew its license, as well as other suitors who may want to license the brand. The Arena Group issued a statement to Axios explaining that it would support whatever ABG chose to do with the Sports Illustrated license.
“Even though the publishing license has been revoked we will continue to produce Sports Illustrated until this is resolved. We hope to be the company to take SI forward but if not, we are confident that someone will. If it is another business, we will support with the transition so the legacy of Sports Illustrated doesn’t suffer,” the statement read.
NBC News reported that the union representing Sports Illustrated staff issued a statement on Jan. 19 regarding the layoffs at Sports Illustrated. The statement, which was released on the union’s X/Twitter account, revealed that the union expected the Arena Group to abide by their contract and treat their members fairly.
Levinsohn was fired after a Futurism report accused the magazine of publishing articles that appeared to be written by artificial intelligence. BBC reported that the Arena Group replaced Levinsohn with Manoj Bhargava, the founder of the company that produces the 5-Hour Energy Drink.
RELATED CONTENT: Sports Illustrated CEO Fired After AI-Generated Stories Scandal
Source: Black Enterprise