Mass layoffs hit Sports Illustrated staff

The publisher of Sports Illustrated is laying off much of the storied magazine’s entire staff.

The news, first reported by Front Office Sports, came less than 24 hours after publisher The Arena Group announced “a significant reduction in its workforce,” comprising 100 employees. Arena said it continued to manage “substantial” debt and recently missed payments, and that the layoffs were part of “cost-cutting measures to initiate a transformative shift towards a streamlined business model.”

Richard Deitsch of The Athletic separately tweeted an image of an email sent out to workers saying “staff” who worked for the Sports Illustrated brand were being laid off.

The union representing SI’s staff said in a tweeted statement that it had been notified of Arena’s intention to “lay off a significant number, possibly all” of its union-represented staff.

“This is another difficult day in what has been a difficult four years for Sports Illustrated under Arena Group (previously The Maven) stewardship,” the union said in a statement. “We are calling on ABG to ensure the continued publication of SI and allow it to serve our audience in the way it has for nearly 70 years,” the statement read, using an acronym in reference to Authentic Brands Group, which held the license under which Sports Illustrated operated.

NBC News has reached out to Arena for comment.

Sports Illustrated drew headlines last fall after reports surfaced it appeared to have published AI-generated stories, photos and authors.

Following those reports, Arena ousted CEO Ross Levinsohn and replaced him with Manoj Bhargava, the founder and CEO of Innovations Ventures, known for creating the 5-hour Energy drink. Bhargava himself subsequently stepped down in January to avoid unspecified potential conflicts of interest.

Arena Group also owns TheStreet, Parade, Men’s Journal, and HubPages.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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