At the end of 2021, The Athletic had about 1.2 million subscribers, according to media reports, and has grown at a rapid pace, launching a UK version in 2019 and partnering with Australian television group Optus Sport last year.
The New York Times has in recent years has used targeted acquisitions to diversify its audience by publishing everything from cooking recipes to podcasts.
According to Crunchbase, The Athletic has raised a total of $139.5 million from investors since its inception, and was valued at between $500 million and $1 billion when it last raised funds in January 2020.
In 2016, it bought product-testing and recommendation site Wirecutter, and in June 2020 acquired Serial Productions, the studio behind the hit podcast of the same name.
Online technology publication The Information reported the newspaper will pay $550 (€487) million for The Athletic, which has become a leader in sports coverage over the past six years as it took advantage of a tough environment for local media.
It has also produced numerous podcasts, including The Lead, its most popular. But media reports says it has struggled to reach profitability and was considering a change in strategy.
The Times and The Athletic did not respond to media requests for comment.