Sports Illustrated is grappling with a "significant" cut in its workforce after its parent company's publishing license was revoked.
The crisis emerged as The Arena Group, which operates Sports Illustrated since acquiring publishing rights of the iconic sports magazine from The Authentic Brand Group in 2019, failed to meet its quarterly license fee.
Calls were made from the Sports Illustrated employee union for the ABG to ensure continuous publication of the magazine.
Sports Illustrated Lays Off Workforce Following License Revocation
How many remember the greatest Sports Illustrated cover of all time. pic.twitter.com/WVbLN7yUls
— Andy Kaczynski (@KFILE) January 20, 2024
According to a report, the popular magazine was forced to lay off a greater number of its workers after its publishers were unable to meet their financial obligations towards its license fee payment.
Affected staff members reportedly got an email to that effect on Friday after the publication's license was revoked, casting a shadow over the future of the renowned brand.
"As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand," Arena Group wrote in the email to staff.
The Lay Off Reportedly Didn't Affect Sports Illustrated's Entire Workforce
For more than half my life, Thursday was my favorite day because that’s when my Sports Illustrated came.
Time passes, nothing lasts forever.
But, if you’re my age the demise of this institution is like saying goodbye to your childhood best friend. Thanks SI, for everything. pic.twitter.com/AwseAxqIGw
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 20, 2024
Amid the upheaval at Sports Illustrated, reports have it that the wave of layoffs did not uniformly affect the entire workforce.
While a large number of employees were laid off, a staffer named Pat Forde responded to the news on social media, stating that the "entire staff" did not receive termination notices. Forde, per his published bio, covers Sports Illustrated college sports, the Olympics, and horse racing sections.
"The entire staff was not laid off. There still is a website and a magazine. That said: Ugly, brutal day with many layoffs," Forde wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Forde also noted in his post, "To correct some erroneous reporting, Matt Lombardi of the Arena Group: 'We are going to continue to operate Sports Illustrated. ... Either Arena or someone else is going to have the license to operate Sports Illustrated.'"
Sports Illustrated Will Continue To See The Light Of Day
According to the news outlet, Authentic Brands Group also announced its commitment to ensuring the continuity of the revered sports publication. The ABG sold publishing rights for Sports Illustrated to the Arena Group in 2019 for at least ten years. However, that deal seems to be hanging in the balance following AG's inability to meet its financial obligations.
In a statement shared with Fox News Digital, ABG confirmed the revoking of Arena Group's marketing license, stating that it was a result of "failure to pay its quarterly license fee despite being given a notice of breach and an opportunity to cure the breach."
The statement continued, "Authentic is here to ensure that the brand of Sports Illustrated, which includes its editorial arm, continues to thrive as it has for the past nearly 70 years. We are confident that going forward, the brand will continue to evolve and grow in a way that serves sports news readers, sports fans, and consumers."
"We are committed to ensuring that the traditional ad-supported Sports Illustrated media pillar has best-in-class stewardship to preserve the complete integrity of the brand's legacy," they added.
Employee Union Reacts
The assurance from ABG should inject a glimmer of hope into the Sports Illustrated community and its employee union, who were notably shaken by the recent layoff announcements but vowed to "continue" the fight.
According to Fox Business, the iconic sports magazine's employee union acknowledged that a vast amount of the brand's workforce, and possibly all of the NewsGuild workers, might be affected.
"We have fought together as a union to maintain the standard of this storied publication that we love and to make sure our workers are treated fairly for the value they bring to this company. It is a fight we will continue," Mitch Goldich, NFL editor and unit chair, said in a statement.
The union also charged Authentic Brands Group to "ensure the continued publication of SI and allow it to serve our audience in the way it has for nearly 70 years."