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The Athletic Co-Founders Explain Selling to The New York Times

“The New York Times won us over. They won us over in their mission, in how we fit into that mission, and how important we are to their mission.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The sports journalism world began 2022 with a bit of a shock when news broke of the acquisition of The Athletic by the New York Times.

The Athletic grew to prominence not only by hiring some of the most well-known reporters in the industry, but by also hosting content on a website free of advertising.

But eventually it seemed like being ad-free, combined with slowing subscription growth, was a hindrance in the company being profitable. Financial reports from the past several years indicate that The Athletic operated at a loss.

Did that serve as the primary reason for co-founders Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather to sell? In an interview with CNBC’s Alex Sherman, Mather said it came down to how the Times presented a vision for The Athletic’s future.

“For us, the simple version of ‘why sell?’ is: The New York Times won us over,” he said. “They won us over in their mission, in how we fit into that mission, and how important we are to their mission, and how they can really supercharge what we’re doing. And we fell in love with the idea, and our board was supportive.”

The deal took some time to complete and at one point, Hansmann and Mather walked away from negotiations with both Axios and the Times. But towards the end of 2021, Mather said an opportunity for The Athletic to be a part of the portfolio of journalism the Times offers to readers made the most sense.

“Things change quite quickly,” he said. “You know, we took a year and a half from that moment and really, you know, evaluated all of our options and in the end felt like The New York Times was the best home for the company.”

The understanding at this point is that The Athletic will continue to operate as a standalone product under the Times umbrella, and then it will be offered in subscription bundles for the paper. Mather added being a marquee puzzle piece in providing worldwide sports coverage will be supremely appealing to subscribers.

“If you think about the essential news bundle in the world, you add in what The New York Times does in world news, politics, science, I can go on forever,” he said. “And then you think about what we do for the sports fans who live anywhere in the world. That is absolutely an essential bundle.”

Sports Online

Over Half of All NFL Viewers Don’t Know Thursday Night Football Is Streaming on Amazon

A study of 1,000 Americans 18 and older indicated 53% of frequent NFL viewers are aware that the games will only be available on Amazon Prime Video.

Jordan Bondurant

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Thursday Night Football

The new NFL season is heading our way fast, and in Week 2, Amazon will be kicking off its historic run as the home for Thursday Night Football.

The only thing is apparently there’s a large group of football fans out there that still have no idea that you’ll only be able to stream those games.

Cumulus Media and Westwood One Audio Active Group commissioned a study of 1,000 Americans 18 and older which indicated 53% of frequent NFL viewers are aware that the games will only be available on Amazon Prime Video.

What’s more concerning, according to Nielsen Scarborough, 54% of of those who watched TNF (36.7 million) in the last year say they are not Amazon Prime members. So they likely won’t have access to a game stream anyway unless they subscribe.

On the flipside, though, those who already have Prime are more likely to tune in to games anyway. Of those surveyed, there’s a good chance the various alternate broadcasts offered in addition to the traditional feed with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will bring in larger audiences and viewers who may be occasional NFL watchers.

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Apple is Leader to Land Big Ten Streaming Rights

Amazon has also been negotiating, but the decision by USC and UCLA to join the conference reportedly brought Apple to the table.

Jordan Bondurant

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Apple Big Ten

A new media rights deal for the Big Ten Conference is nearing its completion, and it’s being reported Apple is close to joining NBC, CBS and FOX as a media partner.

According to both The Athletic and reporting from MacRumors, the tech giant remains as the leading potential streaming partner in the new deal.

Amazon has also been negotiating, but the decision by USC and UCLA to join the conference reportedly brought Apple to the table.

The deal will reportedly see the conference make $1 billion per year. Apple has already made a splash in the streaming world this year, making deals with both MLB and MLS to stream. The company is also still being linked to talks over securing NFL Sunday Ticket.

A formal announcement of the TV rights deal is anticipated by the end of this week, but no word on whether streaming will be included in that or if a separate agreement needs to be reached.

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Big Cat: Listening to ESPN Wisconsin After Packers Playoff Loss ‘Highlight of My NFL Season’

“For three hours, I sat in my car. I arrived home –it’s a 20-minute drive — I arrived home, and I sat for three hours listening to callers be like ‘blow up Lambeau!’, ‘get 12 (Rodgers) outta here!’, ‘we need to build a dome, this team isn’t built for the outside’, and that was the highlight of my NFL season. And I have no problem saying that.”

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During a recent interview with Barstool Sports, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a poignant question for noted Chicago Bears fan Dan “Big Cat” Katz that he then used to slam the Packers quarterback while also expressing his enjoyment for Green Bay fans.

“Is it hard, for you as a Bears fan, that some of your greatest moments are cheering against me when the Bears aren’t playing?”, the Packers quarterback half-jokingly asked.

“Very good question,” Katz responded. “No, it’s actually great, because what I’ve told everyone is — I’m very realistic about the Bears — ‘not a great franchise, (the Bears) just don’t do the right things’ for the most part. Every year I look forward to the playoffs and the game that you’re going to lose. I’ve told this story on air, but, when you guys lost to San Francisco this year we were watching the game in New Jersey and I drove back to Brooklyn — brag — and I listened to (Mark) Tauscher. For three hours, I sat in my car. I arrived home –it’s a 20-minute drive — I arrived home, and I sat for three hours listening to callers be like ‘blow up Lambeau!’, ‘get 12 (Rodgers) outta here!’, ‘we need to build a dome, this team isn’t built for the outside’, and that was the highlight of my NFL season. And I have no problem saying that.”

Rodgers laughed at Big Cat as he delivered the message, seemingly getting genuine joy out of the conversation.

“I know I’m a loser,” Katz continued. “That’s the best part. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m a loser, so yes, watching you lose in the playoffs is…that’s my Super Bowl. And I’ve won a lot of Super Bowls if you do it that way. More than you.”

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