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The Athletic Exploring Deal With New York Times

Axios and The Athletic were reportedly in merger talks as recently as March.

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A deal that would have merged Axios and The Athletic is no longer on the table. The Wall Street Journal reported that the news publisher and sports content company are “no longer in merger talks,” but The Athletic still wants to expand its business.

The two sides were reportedly working on a merger deal back in March, but now The Athletic has turned its sights to the New York Times. The newspaper is facing a new era after years of growth with former President Donald Trump in office. The Times signed up 167,000 new subscribers this month, marking the site’s slowest growth since the second quarter of 2019. 

“As a general matter of policy, we do not comment on rumors about potential acquisitions or divestitures,” A New York Times spokeswoman said to The Hill

The Athletic has over a million paid subscribers signed up for their $7.99 a month content offerings, but their financials are a bit of a mystery. Although a source disclosed to The Wall Street Journal that The Athletic generated $80 million in revenue last year. According to PitchBook, the company’s valuation stood at $475 million during its most recent funding round in January 2020.

The company laid off 46 people last June during the height of the pandemic but has appeared to rebound well as sports returned across the world. Co-Founder Alex Mather discussed the company’s growth with CNBC last September and made a point to mention the New York Times.

“Our investors have been and continue to be incredibly patient,” Mather said. “We just don’t think about exit, and we don’t know the upside here. There are very few companies doing what we’re doing. The New York Times is the tip of the spear, and they’re growing faster than ever. We don’t know what our ceiling is. When we feel like we know what our ceiling is, then it’s time for Adam and I to have a chat. But we have not come close to having a chat.”

UPDATE: According to Axios, the New York Times has begun vetting The Athletic. The paper has been reaching out to former Athletic staffers for information about the company’s business and culture.

The Athletic is not profitable at this time. The Wall Street Journal reports that it carries a staff of 600 full-time employees. What the Times would need to see happen with revenues and profits in order to close a deal remains to be seen.

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Media Reacts To Nick Saban’s Comments On Texas A&M, Jackson State

“Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.”

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Nick Saban had some choice words about recruiting in the NIL era on Wednesday night. The Alabama head coach didn’t just voice frustrations with the process. He called out three schools specifically for using Name, Image and Likeness payments to create an advantage for themselves in recruiting.

He said that Texas A&M, which signed the top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 according to a number of outlets “bought every player on their team.”

He said that Jackson State gave a player $1 million to come to the school. “It was in the paper,” he said. “They bragged about it! Nobody did anything about it.”

It is likely that he was talking about defensive back Travis Hunter, widely regarded as one of the five best players in the class of 2022. It should be noted that Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders has been adamant that Hunter did not receive a dime from the school or anyone else.

The comments created plenty of content on sports radio on Thursday.

Jimbo Fischer, the head coach of Texas A&M took the story to a new level with a press conference of his own in which he cryptically encouraged people to “dig into” Saban’s career history.

The commentary in the sports media came in all kinds of forms. Plenty took to Twitter to express an opinion.

Others used the feud to create comedy.

Finally, others did actual reporting. they made phone calls to get context and further the story.

The coaches may be relatively quiet in public for a while. That doesn’t mean the stories and reactions are going away. Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.

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Bleav Announces Partnership With SiriusXM

“The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.”

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A new partnership will see content from the Bleav Podcast Network come under the SiriusXM umbrella. All 32 of the network’s NFL team-specific podcasts will now be available on the SXM app. The satellite radio company will also have the ability to air Bleav content on its sports channels.

“SiriusXM is a leader in content. We’re very happy to be a part of their programming and continue to amplify the voice of our talent,” Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm said in a press release. “SiriusXM listeners will be able to regularly hear from athletes that played for their team, bringing fans insight and access that only a player can.”

The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.

The deal will also lead to more content in the future. The companies expect to add to the Bleav content available on the SXM App, including shows focused on other professional and college sports. 

“Bleav’s team-focused programming, hosted by many former stars from the league, give fans a unique and experienced perspective into their favorite players and franchises,” said Steve Cohen, SiriusXM’s SVP of Sports Programming and Podcasts.  “Bleav’s network of shows deliver valuable insight for fans of every NFL team.  They are a great addition to the selection of sports podcasts available on the SXM App and we look forward to adding other shows, focused on other sports, from the Bleav network to SiriusXM in the future.” 

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Dave Portnoy Offers Pat Beverley ‘Blank Check’ To Join Barstool

“Just say how many zeros and guarantee us once a week, you are hired.”

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Minnesota Timberwolves player Pat Beverley turned heads with his comments about Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul after the Suns were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.

Beverley told Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith on Monday that he thinks Paul is a “traffic cone,” due to his poor defense and that on nights he knows he’s playing Paul he’ll have a nice steak dinner and wine the night before. He said he’s in bed by 8 p.m. and doesn’t want to hear from his mom or girlfriend if he’s playing Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Pat’s comments got the attention of Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy. Portnoy said Monday he liked Beverley so much that he would hire him to do a podcast for Barstool.

“If Pat Beverley is a Barstool fan and he’s watching this, he has a blank check. You name your price for a podcast, and we will hire you — no questions asked,” Portnoy said. “Just say how many zeros and guarantee us once a week, you are hired.”

Portnoy made the push to sign Beverley to a podcast deal as the company seeks to scale back the number of podcasts it produces. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini announced the decision to cut shows last week.

No word if Beverley has responded to Portnoy’s offer.

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