Sports Illustrated "dead" as 70-year-old magazine hit with mass layoffs

Sports Illustrated, the "bible of sports journalism" fresh off an AI-generated content scandal, is widely reported to be "dead" after mass layoffs. The two things are tied: Arena Group, the organization which publishes the magazine and website under "complicated" arrangements, is losing its license to do so following its use of AI content and weird lies about it. As of Tuesday, there's still fresh stories, but it looks like everyone's going to be gone within weeks.

The announcement on Friday left in doubt what lies ahead for the venerable publication, with some staff members dismissed immediately and others told they would keep their jobs for at least 90 days.

The New York Times is not hopeful for a turnaround: "if Sports Illustrated survives in some form, it will be severely diminished," write Kevin Draper and Benjamin Mullin.

All the same, the AI chum was a symptom of a business failure that was already pressing in. It was a Hail Mary:

In early January, the Arena Group failed to make a $3.75 million payment to Authentic Brands Group, breaching its licensing agreement. Days later, Mr. Bhargava resigned as its interim chief executive officer, and the company signed an agreement with FTI Consulting to help turn the business around.

I was going to remark "AI or death!" but we have to bear in mind that "death" here apparently refers to "equity vultures' ability able to rent out a brand for millions of dollars a quarter after vastly overpaying for it."

Previously: Music site Pitchfork to be "folded" into GQ amid "mass layoffs"