Fox Corp. has bought three TV stations from Nexstar, the top U.S. owner of local stations, in a $350 million transactions that will give the company a position in 14 of the top DMAs.
Under the deal, Fox has also agreed to sell Nexstar two stations in Charlotte, NC: Fox affiliate WJZY and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYT, for about $45 million.
The stations joining the Fox fold — KCPQ and KZJO in Seattle and WITI in Milwaukee — line up with the sports rights held by the company, which has pursued a business model emphasizing live events and sports. The company is off to a strong start in the 2019-20 ratings race, with healthy tune-in for NFL broadcasts and reality hit The Masked Singer.
Last March, Fox began a new chapter as a slimmed-down company whose main assets include the Fox broadcast network, Fox News and local stations. The rest of predecessor 21st Century Fox got acquired by Disney in a $71.3 billion deal.
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“This acquisition expands the reach of one of FOX’s core assets, our television stations portfolio, and further strengthens what is already a highly profitable and cash generative business,” CEO Lachlan Murdoch said. “The Seattle and Milwaukee markets both overlap with key sports markets, creating significant opportunities for growth and collaboration.”
Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, said the transaction “enhances our already strong nationwide footprint and further demonstrates Fox Television Stations’ commitment to serving our viewers, advertisers and local communities.”
Completion of the stations acquisition and divestiture by FOX is expected to occur during the first half of calendar year 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and the satisfaction or waiver of certain closing conditions.
Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said the goal from the point of view of Nexstar, which recently closed its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, was to reduce debt and also free up a bit of space for future station acquisitions.
“The Charlotte metropolitan area is the fastest growing in the country with a strong and stable economy, affordable housing and a solid job market,” Sook added. “We look forward to adding [WJZY and WMYT] to our platform as they represent excellent complements to our already strong mid-Atlantic presence.”
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