NY Times Again In Talks For Full Takeover Of The Athletic

For the second time in less than two months, The New York Times is in talks to buy sports-subscription website The Athletic, according to Axios.

OutKick sources confirmed the talks, indicating that the Times is contemplating a full acquisition with an eye on taking over all aspects of operations. It would not be a partnership, sources said.

Per Axios, the Times is currently in the process of speaking with former employees at The Athletic to "vet The Athletic's business and culture."

The Athletic has held talks with several potential buyers and partners over the past several months, including Axios. But after those talks fizzled, The Athletic turned to the Times. Bloomberg reported last month that initial talks between the Times and The Athletic didn't get very far. But apparently, the sides are trying again.

While subscriptions are reportedly steady, sources told OutKick in April that The Athletic has been struggling to pick up renewals, the heartbeat of the site. The Athletic does not carrying advertising.

One investor told OutKick last month that he feared a “major shakeup in operations” if a business partner or buyer wasn’t located soon.

Other sources said that a Times purchase of The Athletic is likely to mean a new approach to coverage plans, including scaling back localized coverage slightly and placing more of a focus on national beats.

But for now, the content strategy is secondary to financial talks, sources added.

Co-founders Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann launched The Athletic in 2016 with the idea of generating its entire revenue from subscriptions and renewals.

“We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Mather told the Times in 2017. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”

Sources said things have been considerably more rocky than those projections over the past year, resulting in The Athletic seeking a buyer or at the very least, a partner with which to merge.

RELATED | The Athletic facing changes as "well is running dry"

Written by
Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.