Authentic Brands Buys Sports Illustrated To Build Licensing Empire

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To reportedly build a licensing empire with the Sports Illustrated name, Authentic Brands Group LLC has agreed to buy the storied magazine from Meredith Corp. The move comes over a year after it was put on the block and Meredith will still manage its website and publish its print magazine, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Authentic Brands Founder and Chief Executive Jamie Salter said, according to the newspaper, “Sports Illustrated has authority and the respect of athletes all over the world.” The executive per the paper noted a range of licensing deal opportunities such as in apparel when it comes to consumer goods. He also noted deals that could potentially happen in the marketplace for sports gambling and the possibility of airport Sports Illustrated stores.

Salter also noted that the magazine’s more than two-million strong photo archive will have much value to fashion houses in a period when “fashion, sports and music are colliding much differently than in the past.” As it stands, Authentic Brands owns brands that are focused on sports such as Prince for tennis and Spyder for skiing. The company, which is based in New York, also owns brands like Juicy Couture, Nine West and Nautica.

Meredith received Sports Illustrated early last year as part of its Time Inc. acquisition. Meredith then put four titles related to news on the block soon thereafter. The company sold Time to Inc. co-chief executives Marc Benioff and Lynne Benioff for $190 million. Chatchaval Jiaravanon, a Thai businessman, bought Fortune Magazine. Meredith, however, wasn’t able to make a deal for Money. It will reportedly still operate but stop the magazine’s print edition.

Sports Illustrated’s sale is happening during a period when publishers of magazines are grappling with falling newsstand sales as well as print revenue while marketers are looking to spend online with the aim of pursuing data and scale. Advance Publications Inc. unit Condé Nast sold Brides and Golf Digest in recent times and it is selling the W fashion publication.