When it comes to sports media brands, it's hard to match Sports Illustrated. The behemoth magazine was first published in 1954 and enjoyed a decades-long heyday filled with millions of subscribers. Getting your weekly magazine was an event, and reading it cover to cover was customary.

What happened in the last 10-20 years or so is a familiar one for anyone in the media industry. Digital publishing fragmented the industry. Advertising money dried up. There are more great options than ever for a sports fan, but more choices spreads out the money even more. Throw in some mergers and/or acquisitions, and … well, it's not great.

That is the current state of affairs with Sports Illustrated, which underwent massive layoffs Thursday in the wake of the transfer of ownership from Meredith to Authentic Brand Groups. Many of the laid off employees are reportedly slated to be replaced by freelancers and bloggers.

MICHAEL RAND