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New York Times to buy subscription sports site the Athletic for $550m

The New York Times has agreed to buy subscription-based sports site the Athletic for $550m (£400m) in cash, as the 170-year-old newspaper adds more digital content to grab subscribers.

Founded in 2016, the Athletic had 1.2 million subscribers as of December, and covers more than 200 clubs and teams in the US and around the world.

“Acquiring the Athletic puts us in a position to be a global leader in sports journalism,” said NYT CEO Meredith Kopit Levien on Thursday.

The deal shows NYT’s push towards a subscription-first model, which has become a growing trend across the media industry, as the newspaper struggles with steep declines in advertising and print readership.

In the last three years, the company said it has added more than 8 million paid subscriptions across digital and print products.

Levien said the NYT hoped that the Athletic deal would help it to its goal of more than 10 million subscriptions.

The deal is expected to immediately add to the newspaper’s revenue growth.

The Athletic will operate as a separate unit of the company and its founders, Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, will stay on with the NYT after the acquisition.

The Athletic launched its UK operation in 2019, with subscribers paying £4.99 a month for access to sports news stories, long reads and feature articles.

Since expanding to the UK, the outlet has moved to poach a number of established football writers, with a correspondent assigned to each Premier League football club.

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