It seems , which quickly came to prominence for publishing and high-quality sports journalism, is getting a new owner. According to and , The New York Times has agreed to buy the subscription-based digital media company for $550 million.
The Times has set a goal of reaching 10 million subscribers by 2025 and it’s well on the way. It had 8.3 million subscribers as of September 30th. Along with its digital and print publications, the Times has separate plans for its cooking and games (which includes crosswords) products. It bolstered its offerings in recent years by acquiring Wirecutter and placing the popular product review site behind a paywall.
It’s not yet clear whether The Athletic will be rolled into the standard Times subscription or if it will remain a standalone product. The company previously said it didn’t expect to turn a profit until next year. The Athletic had 1.2 million subscribers as of November, though its growth was by that point. The Times held talks with the company last summer about a deal, according to reports, but it backed out before returning to the negotiating table last month.
The Athletic has a roster of talented, big-name sportswriters, many of whom it poached from publications across North America and the UK by offering competitive salaries. Back in 2017, co-founder Alex Mather (oddly enough) that his company “will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing” and “suck them dry of their best talent at every moment.” Mather later apologized for those remarks.