New York Times Co. said it has agreed to acquire sports-media company The Athletic for $550 million, a deal that could help the publisher expand its subscription offerings and draw in young readers.

The Athletic charges $7.99 a month for sports content, including coverage of teams in all the major sports, competing against sites such as the Ringer, Bleacher Report, Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com. The Athletic had 1.2 million subscribers as of December, according to the Times.

Acquiring the Athletic could give the Times NYT, +4.68% a boost as its subscription growth, which boomed during the Trump years, slows down. The company in November warned it could experience subscription cancellations in the fourth quarter of 2021 as it ends promotional pricing. The Times said third-quarter net profit rose 63% as it signed up 455,000 new digital subscribers and enjoyed robust advertising growth.

“Acquiring the Athletic puts

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