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Sports Illustrated plans to lay off ‘significant’ number of staff, union says

Sports Illustrated will have its workforce cut by what the outlet’s employees union says is a “significant” amount as part of a larger job reduction by the company’s publisher.

The Arena Group, which publishes Sports Illustrated, announced this week it would make significant reductions in its workforce, cutting some 100 employees.

The company said the cuts are necessary given the company has assumed “substantial debt and recently missed payments,” and the planned job reductions will “initiate a transformative shift towards a streamlined business model.”

“My immediate focus is to collaboratively design a growth-oriented media company, ensuring the financial stability necessary to cultivate and grow the brands we cherish,” said Jason Frankl of FTI Consulting, who was recently appointed as chief business transformation officer at the Arena Group. “While this week’s layoffs were regrettably necessary, I look forward to sharing detailed plans soon.”

On Friday, SI’s union said the Arena Group is planning to lay off “a significant number, possibly all” of guild-represented employees at the sports media outlet.

“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,” said Mitch Goldich, a senior NFL editor at the outlet.

In a statement on Friday, Authentic Brand Group, which owns SI, said the Arena Group’s license to serve as the publisher of Sports Illustrated “was terminated as a result of the company’s failure to pay its quarterly license fee despite being given a notice of breach and an opportunity to cure the breach.”

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

The announced layoffs come just weeks after the Arena Group fired its former CEO following a controversy centered on its use of artificial intelligence to produce content on Sports Illustrated’s website.

Updated: 3:59 p.m.

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