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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.”

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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.”

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John Skipper: Media Has Not Treated Adam Silver Like He’s Teflon

“I don’t think anyone has hesitated to criticize him when he has done things that are controversial or difficult. Certainly, our friends at FOX News have not provided him with a Teflon coating.”

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Dan Le Batard hosted an interesting conversation on his Thursday show examining the performance of NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the press conference in which he announced the suspension of Suns owner Robert Sarver. David Samson and John Skipper joined Le Batard in the discussion.

Samson, former president of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins, said of Silver “it’s amazing the level of Teflon he’s had, and I don’t know that it’s deserved in any way.” He added that the NBA commissioner’s performance was “not very well workshopped” when addressing the media.

John Skipper, co-founder of Meadowlark Media, acknowledged that the performance was not strong. He said that it was clear that Adam Silver was frustrated by the limitations his job put on what he could do about someone behaving in a way that he did not think was appropriate for the NBA. He did pushback on the idea that Silver had been immune from criticism.

“I’m not sure that I accept that he’s Teflon-like,” Skipper said. “He’s actually made most of the right decisions and done most of the right things and he’s gotten credit for that. I don’t think anyone has hesitated to criticize him when he has done things that are controversial or difficult. Certainly, our friends at FOX News have not provided him with a Teflon coating.”

Samson smiled during the answer, which Skipper addressed by acknowledging that Samson knows that Skipper is friends with Adam Silver. The Meadowlark boss called himself an “apologist” for Silver, but added

“I mostly think he’s done a fabulous job. If you want to hold up what commissioner has done most of the right things in the last seven or eight years, he’s not Teflon-coated, but he has a tremendous track record, which I think deserves our support.”

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Chris Long Tells Jim Rome He’s Gambled on Games to Keep Him Interested For His Podcast

“So you’re like alright I need to do my job tonight, and I’m tired I want to go to bed, but maybe I’ll just throw a couple hundred bucks on the Jaguars,” Long said. “And now I’m invested…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Placing bets on NFL games adds a whole other layer to the NFL viewing experience, and Super Bowl champion Chris Long understands that.

Long, who is not that far removed from his playing days in the league, was a guest on The Jim Rome Podcast, and said he initially considered gambling on football as something to compete at after retiring.

But now that he’s had some time to better learn the ins and outs of wagering, he’s become wiser and better informed. It’s helped him when talking about gambling on his own podcast, Green Light with Chris Long.

“I want to be responsible and give out good picks,” Long said. “I don’t want to just throw stuff out there because I’m getting paid by a casino. I’m really interested in the artform of gambling if that makes any sense.”

Long added that having that wagering itch definitely keeps him enthralled in watching football all day like a lot of other NFL fans, even those games people generally think won’t be that good competitively ahead of time.

He said it’s definitely helped with his show.

“I’m not even gonna lie, dude, sometimes you get burned out by football, right? I played it for a long time, now I’m covering it. So you’re like alright I need to do my job tonight, and I’m tired I want to go to bed, but maybe I’ll just throw a couple hundred bucks on the Jaguars,” Long said. “And now I’m invested and I can do my job more effectively because I’m gonna be glued to the TV. So like in a weird way it’s held me a little bit more accountable when it comes to staying on my game.”

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Shams Charania Signs New Contracts to Remain with Stadium and The Athletic

Shams joined those outlets in 2018 and had agreed to two other deals with them in that span.

Jordan Bondurant

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After speculation over his future, NBA insider Shams Charania is not going somewhere new.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Wednesday night that Charania has signed new contracts to remain at Stadium/Bally Sports and The Athletic.

Shams joined those outlets in 2018 and had agreed to two other deals with them in that span.

Shams has been an integral piece in the growth and evolution of Stadium, elevating our content across both digital media and television experiences,” said Stadium CEO Jason Coyle. “He is one of the finest professionals and people in our industry, and we are truly excited to continue building upon our longstanding and trusted relationship.”

Charania, 28, is an integral part of Stadium/Bally Sports NBA coverage. He makes regular appearances on the Sinclair-owned networks on shows like Inside the Association and The Rally.

Shams has not yet addressed the news on his Twitter account, which has 1.8 million followers.

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