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Arena Group Buys Men’s Journal, Adventure Sports Network Digital Assets

Illustration of dollar sign made of football, baseball, basketball, hockey puck and baseball bat.

Illustrated by Brendan Lynch/Axios

Publicly traded digital publishing company Arena Group will acquire the Men’s Journal and Adventure Sports Network digital assets from Accelerate360 for $28.5 million, the company said.

Important reasons: Arena Group aggregates a number of smaller digital media properties and scales them using shared backend technology and infrastructure. According to monthly traffic data provided by our spokesperson, sports is by far the most trafficked industry.

detail: The transaction, which The Arena Group expects to close on Thursday, December 15, includes a cash upfront payment of $25 million and a deferred payment to Accelerate360 of approximately $3.5 million, the company said in a statement.

  • The deal gives Arena Group the right to operate and monetize the Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Surfer, Powder, Bike, SKATEboarding, Snowboard and Newschoolers digital brands.
  • The company said the acquisition will help strengthen not only its sports publishing division, but also its lifestyle segment.

catch up soon: Arena Group, rebranded from theMaven Inc. in 2021, is home to more than 240 media brands across categories such as sports, lifestyle and fitness.

  • The company dramatically expanded its sports portfolio in 2019. Entered into an agreement to operate and license Sports Illustrated’s media business for an upfront royalty payment of $45 million. A few months later, TheStreet was acquired by him for $16.5 million in cash.
  • The Arena Group has raised more than $250 million since 2017, according to the company. The company’s latest round raised $20 million in equity last June.
  • The up-listing IPO began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in February.

Be smart: Over the past year, Arena Group has continued to buy niche digital assets through a series of smaller acquisitions.

  • Most recently, it acquired golf publisher Morning Read in September and acclaimed American magazine Parade in January.
  • Arena Group generated $180 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2022. That’s a 41% increase from the first nine months of last year, according to the latest earnings report.

  • About 60% of the company’s year-to-date revenue comes from digital and print advertising, and about 36% from digital and print subscriptions. The remaining revenue comes from licensing and syndication. Digital advertising is the company’s largest source of revenue.
  • The company wants to increase investment in new revenue streams such as sports betting and podcasting. Last year, we launched SI Sportsbook in partnership with online betting company 888 Holdings.
Data: Yahoo Finance.Charts: Axios Visual
Data: Yahoo Finance.Charts: Axios Visual

Big picture: Arena Group is one of several publicly traded digital roll-up companies that has risen through a series of smaller, niche acquisitions.

  • Ziff Davis (formerly J2 Global) has acquired pregnancy and parenting brand Emma’s Diary and weight loss app Lose It! This year.
  • BuzzFeed merged with Complex Networks when it went public in a SPAC deal last year. Previously acquired HuffPost.
  • Privately held companies such as Vox Media, BDG and G/O Media are also acquiring smaller digital media as they expand their reach and consider going public.

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