Arena Group buy digital assets of Men’s Journal, Adventure Sports Network

Arena Group buy digital assets of Men’s Journal, Adventure Sports Network
Illustration of a dollar sign made out of footballs, baseballs, basketballs, hockey pucks and a baseball bat.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Arena Group, a publicly traded digital-publishing company, plans to acquire the digital assets of Men’s Journal and of Adventure Sports Network from Accelerate360 for $28.5 million, the company said.

Why it matters: Arena Group aggregates lots of smaller digital media properties and scales them using shared backend technology and infrastructure. Sports is by far its most-trafficked vertical, according to monthly traffic data provided by a spokesperson.

Details: The transaction, which The Arena Group expects to close this coming Thursday, Dec. 15, includes a $25 million cash payment up front and roughly $3.5 million in deferred payments to Accelerate360, the company said in a statement.

  • The deal gives Arena Group the rights to operate and monetize the digital brands of Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Surfer, Powder, Bike, SKATEboarding, Snowboard and Newschoolers.
  • The company said the acquisitions will help bolster not only its sports publishing arm but also its lifestyle vertical.

Catch up quick: The Arena Group, which rebranded from theMaven Inc. in 2021, is home to more than 240 media brands that span categories like sports, lifestyle and fitness.

  • The company dramatically expanded its sports portfolio in 2019 when it struck a deal to operate and license Sports Illustrated’s media business for $45 million in upfront royalties. It acquired TheStreet a few months later for $16.5 million in cash.
  • The Arena Group has raised more than $250 million since 2017, according to the company. Its most recent round was a $20 million equity raise last June.
  • It began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in February through an uplisting IPO.

Be smart: In the past year, The Arena Group has continued to buy up niche digital assets through a series of small acquisitions.

  • Most recently, it acquired golf publisher Morning Read in September, and it bought the storied American magazine Parade in January.
  • The Arena Group generated $180 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2022, a 41% increase from the first nine months of the previous year, per its most-recent earnings report.

  • Around 60% of the company’s revenue year-to-date has come from digital and print advertising and about 36% has come from digital and print subscriptions. The rest of its revenues come licensing and syndication. Digital advertising is by far its biggest revenue stream.
  • The company is looking to invest more in newer revenue streams like sports betting and podcasting. It partnered with online betting company 888 Holdings to launch SI Sportsbook last year.
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The Arena Group is one of several publicly traded digital rollup companies that’s boosted its position through a series of small, niche acquisitions.

  • Ziff Davis, formerly J2 Global, acquired pregnancy and parenting brand Emma’s Diary and weight loss app Lose It! this past year.
  • BuzzFeed merged with Complex Networks when it went public via a SPAC deal last year. Prior, it bought HuffPost.
  • Private companies like Vox Media, BDG and G/O Media also have bought up smaller digital outlets as they look to grow reach and consider going public themselves.

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