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Sports media startup The Athletic laid off its US programming team after apparent clashes with management

The Athletic cofounders Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather
  • Digital sports publisher The Athletic recently laid off a six-person programming team that distributed content.
  • The company said it was reevaluating its approach to their work. According to sources, the layoffs stemmed from clashes with management.
  • The Athletic also has expanded into audio and video content to grow its subscriber base but recently did not renew its contracts with big-name TV talent that were building out its video business.
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The Athletic, the subscription-based sports media startup, laid off its US programming team in late April.
The six-person team packaged, scheduled, distributed and promoted content to grow reader engagement, according to multiple sources close to the company.
"After much discussion and analysis, we made the decision to move on from our US content programming team and reevaluate our approach to this work," a spokesperson for The Athletic said. "We thank the team for their work at The Athletic."
These layoffs were not related to coronavirus, which has caused scores of layoffs in media, but stemmed from clashes with management, according to the sources.
While The Athletic laid off the programming team, it is hiring for a new team with similar responsibilities. It's advertising a VP of programming role that would oversee the global programming process and strategy.
Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann started the subscription company four years ago to focus on the local sports market. The San Francisco-based company has raised $139.5 million from backers including Bedrock Capital and Founders Fund and hired more than 500 employees, including top sports writers. It's valued at $500 million.
Mather and Hansmann have publicly talked about hitting a goal of 1 million subscribers, particularly by focusing on international markets.

The coronavirus has hit live sports hard

While sources said the layoffs weren't related to the pandemic, the coronavirus has pushed the sports industry to a halt as leagues including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League postpone games. The lack of live sports has put pressure on The Athletic and other sports-focused publishers.
In April, The New York Times reported that The Athletic was among dozens of media companies that have cut executives' salaries. Sources said employees have been told that The Athletic is avoiding layoffs tied to the pandemic.
To retain and grow its subscriber base, The Athletic has expanded into audio and video businesses that include some advertising-supported content. The Athletic brought on TV journalist Armen Keteyian and producers Alan Goldberg and Victor Frank to beef up video content, but the three recently left after The Athletic did not renew their contracts.
Got more information about The Athletic? Contact Lauren Johnson on Signal or Confide at (720) 261-0417, email at LJohnson@businessinsider.com or Twitter DM @LaurenJohnson.
SEE ALSO: Newsletter company TheSkimm faces an uncertain future after dashed acquisition attempts, deep layoffs, and executive pay cuts
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* This article was originally published here
https://www.businessinsider.com/sports-media-startup-the-athletic-lays-off-programming-team-2020-5
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