Sports Illustrated’s entire staff was notified today that they are being laid off, marking a significant shift in the publication’s storied history.
The move comes after the Authentic Brands Group (ABG) revoked Arena Group’s license to operate the Sports Illustrated brand. This drastic step was taken following Arena’s failure to make a recent $2.8 million payment, breaching their licensing agreement.
Employees affected by the layoffs will receive severance pay in accordance with their union agreement. Some staff members will be terminated immediately with pay in lieu of the applicable notice period, while others will continue working through the end of their notice period. The Sports Illustrated Union and The NewsGuild of New York have issued a statement demanding that The Arena Group honor all terms of their union contract. They vow to fight for fair treatment for all colleagues affected by this upheaval.
Sports Illustrated Lay Off All Staff
The backdrop to this development involves financial instability and management changes at Arena Group. The company, which took over the media operations of Sports Illustrated in 2019, has faced several rounds of layoffs and leadership changes over the years. In late 2023, things began to unravel further with missed payments and negotiations for the sale of a majority stake in Arena Group to Manoj Bhargava’s companies, Bridge Media and Simplify Inventions. However, these transactions are yet to be finalized.
Despite the layoffs, ABG remains committed to ensuring the continuation of the Sports Illustrated brand. They are actively engaging in discussions to identify new operational partners, demonstrating their dedication to preserving the legacy of this iconic publication.
This situation underscores the volatile nature of the media industry, particularly for legacy publications struggling to navigate the digital era. Sports Illustrated, once a titan in sports journalism, now faces an uncertain future, grappling with financial woes and corporate disputes that have ultimately led to the displacement of its entire workforce.
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