News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s Fox Sports Media Group agreed to buy regional sports network SportsTime Ohio, gaining the TV rights to Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.
The deal will last more than 10 years, according to a person familiar with the situation. Fox Sports will pay about $230 million for SportsTime Ohio and $40 million a year for the rights, said the person, who asked not to be named because the contract details are private.
SportsTime Ohio has been broadcasting Indians games for the past seven seasons. Fox Sports Ohio, which carried the games prior to the 2006 season, serves more than 5 million homes in Ohio and parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia, according to a statement.
News Corp. has increased its spending on sports as the company collects higher programming fees on its networks from pay-TV providers such as Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US) and DirecTV. (DTV:US) The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company agreed last month to buy 49 percent of the Yes Network, the cable network that carries New York Yankees games, in a deal that valued that asset at about $3 billion. Fox Sports is also competing with Time Warner Cable Inc. to secure TV rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The acquisition of SportsTime Ohio solidifies our business in Ohio,” Jeff Krolik, Fox Sports Networks’ executive vice president, said in the statement. “We look forward to once again showcasing the Indians.”
News Corp. fell 1.1 percent to $24.61 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 38 percent this year.
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