'The Athletic' Raises $40 Million, Plans to Expand Video, Podcast Teams


Following a round of Series C funding, The Athletic, a subscription-based sports media company, announced it has raised $40 million. The new round raises the outlets' total investments to $70 million since launching in 2016.

Axios first reported the news.

Two years in, The Athletic has 300 full-time employees and over 100,000 subscribers. The company reports a 90% renewal rate among its subscribers with numbers holding steady with the Los Angeles Times' digital subscription base.

The new round of funding will be invested in teams devoted to audience, data and editorial, with the intention of driving subscriptions and teams devoted to podcasts and video. 

The subscription-based publication is estimated to be worth $200 million.

Covering 47 markets, The Athletic cofounder Alex Mather told Axios the newer markets — 35 launched since January — are all profitable and the older markets grow approximately 10% year over year.

Mather stated: "Our revenue comes in recurring payments. It's a lot less explosive than ad companies — it's harder to build — but the payoff is huge in revenue foundation."

The Athletic's latest round of funding was co-led by Founders Fund, a tech-centric San Francisco-based venture capital firm, and Bedrock Capital, a venture-capital firm specializing in early stage investment. Founders Fund was the lead investor. Despite his position as a founding partner at the firm, Peter Thiel was not involved, per Axios.

Other investors involved in the Series C round that had previously backed The Athletic include Comcast Ventures, Evolution Media Capital, Courtside Ventures, The Chernin Group, Y Combinator, Advancit and Luminari.

theSkimm, another popular digital subscription-based media company, closed out its own series C round of investment in May, bringing in $12 million from Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks. The women-centric outlet began as a newsletter and has now grown into a multiplatform company counting 7 million subscribers to its newsletter alone. 

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