Sports Illustrated Has a New Publisher, Weeks After $110 Million Sale

Ex-Los Angeles Times publisher Ross Levinsohn is now in charge after TheMaven reaches a deal to run iconic sports magazine

Sports Illustrated is once again under new leadership, with digital media startup TheMaven agreeing to publish the iconic magazine, both online and in print, for the next decade, according to an SEC filing on Monday.

The deal comes just weeks after Meredith sold SI to Authentic Brands Group, a brand development company, for $110 million. Under terms of the Meredith-Authentic deal, the former would continue as the magazine’s publisher. Now, after TheMaven prepaid ABG $45 million against future royalties, the Seattle-based company will takeover SI’s print and digital operation — severing Meredith’s ties to the magazine in the process.

Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed, although ABG will gain some equity in TheMaven as part of the arrangement.

To run SI, TheMaven has tapped former Los Angeles Times publisher Ross Levinsohn as the magazine’s new CEO. Levinsohn’s turbulent tenure at the LAT included an investigation into sexual harassment accusations following a National Public Radio report the media veteran had created a “frat house environment”; the paper cleared Levinsohn of any wrongdoing, but he left the Times last year after it was sold to Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The new leadership, according to Monday’s SEC filing, will look to “develop new digital media channels” under the SI banner and “operate certain related businesses, including without limitation, special interest publications, video channels, bookazines and the licensing and/or syndication of certain products and content.”

Sports Illustrated was among the properties Meredith took on when it purchased Time Inc. in January 2018 for $1.85 billion. Authentic Brands Group currently manages Nautica, Juicy Couture, and elements of the Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali estates.

It’s unclear how the latest deal impacts editor Chris Stone, who has been with the outlet since 1992 and lead its editorial business since 2016.

The SI deal comes a week after TheMaven agreed to buy Jim Cramer’s TheStreet.com for $16.5 million in cash.