The Athletic Lays Off 4% of Newsroom One Year After New York Times’ $550 Million Acquisition

The news organization aims to realign beats around leagues rather than teams

New York Times
New York Times (Getty)

The Athletic, the sports outlet owned by the New York Times, is laying off nearly 20 people, or 4% of its newsroom, publisher David Perpich and executive editor Steven Ginsberg announced Monday. They wrote in an email to staff to anticipate “a significant reorganization” of the media outlet.

“The Athletic has generally viewed every league in a similar manner, with similar beats and offerings. But our growing body of research and our own understanding of the sports we cover compel a more nuanced approach,” the note said. “There is no perfect formula for determining which teams to cover, but we are committing dedicated beat reporters to the ones that most consistently produce stories that appeal to both large and news-hungry fan bases, as well as league-wide audiences.”

“Even with the changes being announced today, the size of our newsroom will grow this year compared to last, as will our overall investments in our editorial group in the years ahead,” Perpich and Ginsberg wrote, per The New York Times. “At the end of this process, we will have more than 100 beat reporters on teams.”

Coverage of the NFL and English Premier League will remain similar because those stories reportedly attract a lot or interest from readers. The NHL and Major League Baseball coverage will have beats eliminated because audiences for those stories is more localized.

“Our data shows that the stories that are of greatest interest to our subscribers — and draw in the most new readers and subscribers — are often the ones that provide revelatory information about players and teams that resonate with fans across an entire league,” the note said.

The New York Times acquired The Athletic in January 2022 for $550 million. The sports subscription site had over one million subscribers at the time, but operating losses of $55 million hit the outlet in 2021. The Athletic now has around 3.3 million subscribers, but it lost $6.8 million in February and March 2022, and it lost $12.6 million in the second quarter. It lost $7.8 million in its most recent quarter.

The Washington Post first reported the news.