Jan 18, 2022 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: The Arena Group to acquire Parade

Illustration of a Parade Magazine cover featuring Benjamin Franklin
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Arena Group, a digital publishing company formerly called Maven, plans to acquire AMG/Parade, the parent company to the storied American magazine Parade, in a $16 million cash and stock deal.

Why it matters: AMG/Parade will anchor The Arena Group's new push into lifestyle content and will boost its sports vertical, per Ross Levinsohn, CEO of The Arena Group.

  • AMG (Athlon Media Group) includes a professional sports magazine arm called Athlon Sports and Parade Media Group, which includes Parade Magazine as well as the cooking outlet Relish and the wellness outlet Spry Living.

Catch up quick: AMG acquired Parade from Advance Publications in 2014. It has been widely-distributed via local newspapers for decades. Despite the fall of print, Parade is still distributed to millions of households weekly via newspapers like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe and others.

  • The Alliance for Audited Media hasn't counted its distribution since 2014, but Parade notes it has a circulation of 22 million, which would technically still make it one of the most widely-circulated magazines in the country.
  • "[W]e believe our collective relationships with local publishers will drive new opportunities, audience and revenue for the combined properties," Levinsohn said.

Details: The Arena Group will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of AMG/Parade for $16 million in cash and equity, per a statement.

  • Employees from AMG/Parade will join The Arena Group and AMG/Parade CEO Chuck Allen will help manage the integration of the new assets.
  • "The AMG/Parade team has done a tremendous job running this business profitably and we believe we can accelerate and optimize the business by combining," Levinsohn said.
  • He referenced work The Arena Group has done to grow and optimize other "iconic brands" including Sports Illustrated, The Street and History.com.

Between the lines: The Arena Group, which rebranded from theMaven Inc. in 2021, operates over 200 digital brands across three main categories: sports, finance and lifestyle. Most of its traffic comes from its sports properties.

  • In a statement, it says it expects to report $180 million of revenue for year 2021, representing 41% year-over-year growth and its highest year for revenue ever.
  • Around 35% of the company's revenue comes from advertising and roughly 60% comes from print and digital subscriptions, per a recent regulatory filing. It makes roughly 5% of revenues from licensing and syndication. It plans to diversify its revenue into new areas, like podcasting, commerce and gambling.

The backstory: The Arena Group, then called Maven, struck a deal to operate and license Sports Illustrated's media business in 2019. It acquired TheStreet a few months later, for $16.5 million in cash.

  • Levinsohn, a veteran media executive, was named CEO of Sports Illustrated Media in 2019 and was promoted to CEO of The Arena Group in 2020.
  • The company has raised over $129 million, per Crunchbase. It most recently-raised $20 million in equity in June alongside the acquisition of sports website The Spun for $11 million.

The big picture: The deal comes days after The Arena Group said it planned to uplist its shares to the New York Stock Exchange from the smaller OTCQX exchange.

  • It announced plans for a reverse stock split, limiting the number of outstanding shares in the market. The move is typically used by companies to prevent them from being de-listed due to a company's share price falling too low.
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