According to Sportico, shares in Sports Illustrated’s publisher, The Arena Group, have dropped by 28% after the renowned sports outlet was accused of using AI to generate stories under fabricated bylines.
Per the initial report led by Futurism, Sports Illustrated allegedly “used computer-generated copy to create content such as a volleyball buying guide authored by staffers that don’t exist.”
The pages dedicated to the authors of the article in question were also said to have included AI-generated photos accompanying the names of the allegedly made-up staffers.
“Creating buying guides like that one has been a major focus for The Arena Group to increase the company’s revenue,” read the report. “Management said in its earnings report, which came out two weeks ago, that its e-commerce revenue from such efforts rose 637 percent in the latest quarter.”
Sports Illustrated responded to the allegations, noting that the product reviews came from AdVon Commerce, a third-party company, which confirmed that all articles were created by humans.
As a result of the allegations, the market cap for The Arena Group dropped by $20 million. The business now sits in the micro-cap territory with an updated market cap of $48 million.
While the AI usage was one of the reasons disclosed for the drop in shares for The Arena Group, Sportico suggests that other complications from the situation may have occurred as well.
In August 2023, The Arena Group signed a deal for Bridge Media Networks to purchase the company. That agreement is set to be finalized by the end of Q4 or early 2024.
Along with Sports Illustrated, The Arena Group owns Hockey News, TheStreet.com, Men’s Journal, and a plethora of other publications.