The Athletic Ends Merger Talks with Axios: Report

The Athletic, a sports news web site, has halted merger talks with Axios, according to a published report Thursday.
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The Athletic, a subscription based sports news web site, has withdrawn from merger talks with broad-based news web site Axios, a published report said Thursday. 

The Athletic still seeks a deal to grow its subscriber, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing knowledgeable sources.

The Athletic executives think The New York Times is a leading candidate for a merger tie-up, the sources said.

They figure that The Times could benefit from The Athletic's 1 million paying subscribers, given that Times digital-news subscription growth has slowed since Donald Trump departed the White House in January.

The Athletic costs $7.99 a month and competes against free services including ESPN.com and FoxSports.com.

The Athletic was valued at $475 million in its last funding round of January 2020, according to PitchBook, The Journal reported.

The Athletic enjoyed about $80 million of revenue in 2020, according to one of The Journal sources. It has 600 employees.

In other sports news, top stories from Sports Illustrated Thursday include:

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers have started exploring other possible quarterbacks they can add to their roster for upcoming organized team activities and training camp, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Vaccine developers Pfizer PFE and BioNTech BNTX will donate doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said Thursday.

The Los Angeles Angels are releasing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, the team announced Thursday. Pujols, 41, is in the final year of the 10-year contract he signed with Los Angeles prior to the 2012 season. He ranks fifth all-time with 667 home runs.