Arena Group’s Stock Plummets Over 30% After Losing Rights to Sports Illustrated

January 20, 2024 | by


Arena Group’s stock has plummeted over 30% after losing the rights to publish Sports Illustrated. The media company, which had overseen Sports Illustrated’s publication through an agreement with Authentic Brands Group, saw its license revoked after missing a quarterly payment. As a result, the company may have to lay off a significant number, possibly all, of its Guild-represented staff. This development comes as the latest blow to Sports Illustrated, which has struggled to find success in the online media space and has faced criticism over its editorial standards.

Arena Groups Stock Plummets Over 30% After Losing Rights to Sports Illustrated

Background Information

The Arena Group, a struggling media company, has experienced a series of challenges recently. One major setback is the loss of its rights to publish Sports Illustrated, a popular sports magazine. This development has had a significant impact on the company, causing its stock price to plummet by over 30%. As a result, the Arena Group now faces financial difficulties, leading to talks of potential layoffs for the unionized staff at Sports Illustrated.

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Stock Performance

The loss of the Sports Illustrated license has had a severe impact on the Arena Group’s stock performance. The stock price dropped more than 30%, closing at a mere 84 cents per share. This decline is part of a larger downward trend, with the stock losing over 89% of its value in the past 12 months. These numbers are a clear reflection of the financial struggles that the company is currently facing.

Loss of Sports Illustrated License

Arena Group’s arrangement with Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which allowed them to publish Sports Illustrated, was terminated. This decision came after Arena failed to make a $3.75 million quarterly payment to ABG. As a result of the termination, Arena Group now faces a $45 million fee that they must pay to ABG immediately. This loss of the license to publish Sports Illustrated has dealt a significant blow to Arena Group’s operations and financial stability.

Union Layoffs

The unionized staff at Sports Illustrated has received notification of possible layoffs. It is uncertain how many employees will be affected, but there is a real possibility that a significant number, if not all, of the unionized staff will face job cuts. This news has undoubtedly created uncertainty and heightened concerns among the affected employees.

Sports Illustrated Struggles

Sports Illustrated has been facing numerous challenges in the online-media landscape. The publication has struggled to adapt to the changing market dynamics and has faced questions regarding its editorial standards under Arena Group’s oversight. Additionally, Sports Illustrated has been embroiled in controversy, being accused of publishing AI-generated content with fake bylines. These challenges have further compounded the difficulties faced by Arena Group and its flagship publication.

Arena Group’s Difficulties

The Arena Group has been grappling with financial struggles and mounting debt. In an effort to address these challenges, the company has laid off 100 employees. These cost-cutting measures were undertaken to initiate a transformative shift towards a streamlined business model. Despite these efforts, the Arena Group continues to face significant obstacles in achieving financial stability. In an attempt to find a solution, the company is currently in talks to combine forces with Bridge Media Networks, with the possibility of a substantial investment being part of the deal.

Negotiations with Authentic Brands Group

Despite the termination of the Sports Illustrated license, the Arena Group remains actively engaged in negotiations with Authentic Brands Group. The company is determined to sustain its commitment to delivering quality content to its audience. Ongoing discussions are focused on finding a resolution regarding the license and brand of Sports Illustrated. The outcome of these negotiations will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future direction and viability of the Arena Group.

New Cost-Cutting Measures

To address its financial challenges, the Arena Group has announced cost-cutting measures, including layoffs. The company is striving to transform its business model and streamline its operations. These measures are essential in the Arena Group’s efforts to overcome its financial difficulties and establish a more sustainable path forward. The potential investment from Bridge Media Networks could provide the necessary support for these cost-cutting measures to take effect.

FTI Consulting Partnership

Recognizing the need for a turnaround, the Arena Group has enlisted the services of FTI Consulting, a prominent business advisory firm. This partnership aims to provide expertise and guidance in navigating the company’s financial challenges. As part of this turnaround effort, the interim CEO, Manoj Bhargava, has resigned to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The previous CEO, Ross Levinsohn, was fired in December, further indicating the significant changes and challenges that the Arena Group is currently facing.


The Arena Group and Sports Illustrated face an uncertain future due to their financial challenges and the ongoing turbulence in the media industry. The loss of the Sports Illustrated license, stock price decline, and potential union layoffs all point to the difficult circumstances that the company is currently grappling with. Despite these setbacks, the Arena Group remains actively engaged in negotiations, cost-cutting measures, and a potential partnership with Bridge Media Networks. It is hoped that these efforts will enable the company to overcome its current challenges and find a viable path forward in the ever-changing media landscape.


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