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The Athletic Exploring Deal With New York Times

Axios and The Athletic were reportedly in merger talks as recently as March.

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A deal that would have merged Axios and The Athletic is no longer on the table. The Wall Street Journal reported that the news publisher and sports content company are “no longer in merger talks,” but The Athletic still wants to expand its business.

The two sides were reportedly working on a merger deal back in March, but now The Athletic has turned its sights to the New York Times. The newspaper is facing a new era after years of growth with former President Donald Trump in office. The Times signed up 167,000 new subscribers this month, marking the site’s slowest growth since the second quarter of 2019. 

“As a general matter of policy, we do not comment on rumors about potential acquisitions or divestitures,” A New York Times spokeswoman said to The Hill

The Athletic has over a million paid subscribers signed up for their $7.99 a month content offerings, but their financials are a bit of a mystery. Although a source disclosed to The Wall Street Journal that The Athletic generated $80 million in revenue last year. According to PitchBook, the company’s valuation stood at $475 million during its most recent funding round in January 2020.

The company laid off 46 people last June during the height of the pandemic but has appeared to rebound well as sports returned across the world. Co-Founder Alex Mather discussed the company’s growth with CNBC last September and made a point to mention the New York Times.

“Our investors have been and continue to be incredibly patient,” Mather said. “We just don’t think about exit, and we don’t know the upside here. There are very few companies doing what we’re doing. The New York Times is the tip of the spear, and they’re growing faster than ever. We don’t know what our ceiling is. When we feel like we know what our ceiling is, then it’s time for Adam and I to have a chat. But we have not come close to having a chat.”

UPDATE: According to Axios, the New York Times has begun vetting The Athletic. The paper has been reaching out to former Athletic staffers for information about the company’s business and culture.

The Athletic is not profitable at this time. The Wall Street Journal reports that it carries a staff of 600 full-time employees. What the Times would need to see happen with revenues and profits in order to close a deal remains to be seen.

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Sports Media Supports Fantasy Football Waffle House Bet Loser

“Sports media pros from different companies and different platforms weighed in to marvel at the challenge and Sanderlin’s endurance.”

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Lee Sanderlin/Twitter

There’s been a long-standing theory that everyday there is a main character on Twitter. On Thursday, that main character was a man named Lee Sanderlin. 

Sanderlin is a reporter covering politics for the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. All Twitter cares about though is that he is very bad at fantasy football. His punishment was to spend 24 hours in a Waffle House. 

For every waffle that Sanderlin consumed, his sentence was was cut by an hour. That sounds easy to those that haven’t spent time in the South. Waffle House waffles are each the size of a dinner plate. It would be hard to believe he would be able to cut a significant number of hours off his sentence. 

Waffle House employees didn’t have faith in Lee Sanderlin. 

The internet was very different. Sports media pros from different companies and different platforms weighed in to marvel at the challenge and Sanderlin’s endurance.

Lee Sanderlin noted that he stacked up episodes of his favorite college football podcast, Shutdown Fullcast, in order to kill some time. 

Hosts Spencer Hall and Ryan Nanni reached out to show their support. 

Sanderlin likely had a night he will never forget. He certainly gained some fans and followers. It sounds like he had some good conversations too. 

After 15 hours, 9 waffles, a few visits from friends, too many bad TouchTunes selections, a little vomit and a lot of stomach pain, Lee Sanderlin completed his mission and was free to leave Waffle House. The radio voice of fantasy football players everywhere immediately celebrated.

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No Deal For The Athletic, New York Times

Prior to talks of merging with the New York Times, The Athletic also was exploring a merger with Axios but that deal also fell through a little over a month ago.

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The New York Times and The Athletic will no longer be merging as Sahil Patel of “The Information” reported that the two parties have ended discussions regarding the paper’s take over of the sports megasite.

According to the report, there were a few different reasons the deal fell apart. Patel notes that the two parties couldn’t agree on a price and discussions revolved around how employees of The Athletic would be compensated for the equity they hold in the company.

Prior to talks of merging with the New York Times, The Athletic also was exploring a merger with Axios but that deal also fell through a little over a month ago.

BSM recently reported, “The Athletic has over a million paid subscribers signed up for their $7.99 a month content offerings, but their financials are a bit of a mystery. Although a source disclosed to The Wall Street Journal that The Athletic generated $80 million in revenue last year. According to PitchBook, the company’s valuation stood at $475 million during its most recent funding round in January 2020.”

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Sports Illustrated Launches SI Tix Secondary Market Site

Sports Illustrated partnered with Venmo and PayPal on the project.

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Courtesy: Business Wire

Stadiums are filling up all over the country, and Sports Illustrated is getting into the game. The company announced on Wednesday that they are jumping into the event tickets space with SI Tix.

SI partnered with Venmo and their parent company PayPal to craft their very own ticketing site and app. Buyers can visit sitickets.com or download the app to start browsing over 100,000 concerts, theatre, and sporting events across the world. The website and app are already up and running.

Even better than the offerings are the fee policies. A flat rate of $10 is universal on ticket purchases, so no hidden “handling” fees for a double-take at checkout. They also guarantee a 100% refund for any canceled event.

“With live events poised to make a triumphant return, our goal for SI Tix is to disrupt the ticketing industry in a major way with a platform created specifically for fans,” said Authentic Brands Group (SI parent company) COO Corey Salter. “After an unprecedented year that rocked the sports and entertainment worlds to the core, we are thrilled to be the first media company ever to launch a ticketing platform and are excited to be the first service to offer a $10 flat fee.”

One wrinkle in the $10 fee is that it’s only available to Venmo users; all other purchase platforms will require a processing fee. In the past two years, Venmo has seen significant growth and was vital to many businesses during the pandemic.

“More than 70 million customers use Venmo to pay friends, family, and businesses in their everyday lives,” said SVP and GM of Venmo Darrell Esch. “With the launch of SI Tix, we’re excited to give Venmo customers access to a new marketplace as the first payment provider offered on the ticketing platform. In addition to the ability to check out quickly and seamlessly on the mobile and web app, SI Tix will be one of the first merchants to offer Venmo for checkout on desktop.”

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