New York Times in discussions to acquire The Athletic: report

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The New York Times is in discussions to acquire sports media outlet The Athletic, according to Axios

The Times reached out to The Athletic after a potential deal between The Athletic and Axios fell through in early May, sources told the news site.

Representatives from the Times and The Athletic declined to comment about the rumored deal.

The deal would not be a partnership or merger. Instead, the Times would completely acquire The Athletic and its subscribers, Axios reported. 

The Athletic is a subscriber-based sports media company known for hiring top talent and does not rely on advertising for revenue. Last fall, the company said it had more than 1 million subscribers.

The Times has adopted a similar business model and has increasingly relied on digital subscribers for revenue and less on advertising. 

Subscriptions for the paper grew at record rates during 2020 as the country managed multiple crises, including racial unrest, the pandemic and the presidential election.

And while the rate of subscription growth at the Times has since slowed, the paper still gained 167,000 net new digital news subscriptions in first quarter of this year.

The discussions are the latest in a series of deals or proposed deals in the media space since the start of the year. 

In mid-May, AT&T announced it was merging its WarnerMedia division with Discovery Inc. to create a new publicly traded company focused on entertainment.

Axios is a rumored target of an acquisition by German media company Axel Springer, which owns Insider and a majority stake in Morning Brew, as well as multiple European media brands including the German edition of Rolling Stone and

And news recently leaked of a proposed merger between Vice Media and investment company 7GC & Co Holdings.

In April, Vox Media announced that it had acquired Cafe Studios, the podcasting company co-founded by Preet Bharara.

–Updated on May 26 at 9:30 a.m.

Tags acquisition media merger New York Times Preet Bharara The Athletic
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