New York Times to buy the Athletic in $550 million deal

<p><p>The New York Times Co. agreed to buy the Athletic, acquiring a sports-news website with more than 1 million subscribers, according to a person familiar with the matter.</p></p><p><p>The deal is valued at around $550 million, said the person, who asked not to be identified because it hasn’t been announced. Neither the Times nor the Athletic responded to a request for comment.</p></p><p><p>Started six years ago, the Athletic established itself by poaching big-name sports writers from news outlets across the country, including Ken Rosenthal in baseball and Shams Charania in basketball.</p></p><p><p>The Athletic’s co-founder, Alex Mather, told the New York Times in 2017: “We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed, until we are the last ones standing. We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment.”</p></p><p><p>He later apologized.</p></p><p><p>The company raised about $50 million two years ago at a valuation of around $500 million.</p></p><p><p>In November, it had about 1.2 million subscribers who pay for access to articles about major professional sports teams in the U.S., as well as professional soccer teams abroad.</p></p><p><p>In June 2020, the Athletic cut 46 employees, or 8% of its staff.</p></p><p><p>The Athletic also held talks with the online news site Axios. Negotiations broke down over a range of issues, including price and who would lead the combined company, according to people familiar with the matter.</p></p><p><p>The deal with the Times was reported earlier Thursday by the Information.</p></p>