Media Fortune Fame & Folly

Axios-The Athletic merger?

Every week, there seems to be another reason to identify an opportunity for daily newspapers which could so easily instead become a threat. One of those challenges was the launch of The Athletic to cover the English Premier League in clear competition with the UK dailies which depend on the football-soccer for readers, online users and advertisers.

Soon after I highlighted the potential for Substack (and soon Facebook too) to tempt away newspaper columnists to produce their own easy-to-monetize newsletters, comes news that The Athletic is in merger talks with Axios, the smart newsletter founded by Jim VandeHei (co-founder of Politico). One of benefits of a merger, if it takes place, will be the application of The Athletic’s subscription skills to Axios which is just starting to create paid-for access. 

Axios, launched in 2017, reportedly generated $60m in revenue in 2020, employs 250 people, and was profitable. Its newsletters focus on media-tech and it has a documentary programme in the US on HBO. 

The Athletic may not be profitable but had revenues of $80m last year and employs 600 people in North America, the UK and Australia. The company has a significant podcast portfolio. A merger is still far from certain but the combination could create new challenges for daily news brands in the US and UK.