21st Century Fox today announced Wednesday it would buy seven television stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media for about $910 million.
The deal will increase Fox Television Stations’ (FTS) coverage to nearly half of all U.S. households, and its market presence to 19 of the top 20 DMAs, including the addition of key markets that align with Fox’s sports rights.
Under the deal, Fox would pick up stations in Seattle, Miami, Denver, Cleveland, Sacramento, San Diego and Salt Lake City. All but Miami is affiliated with the Fox broadcast network; Miami’s WSFL is a CW station.
The deal strengthens the 21st Century Fox that will emerge after the completion of much of its film and TV assets by Disney.
Fox currently owns 28 stations in 17 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Houston — which will remain with Fox after the Disney deal, along with the Fox broadcast network, Fox News and Fox Sports.
The new sell-off of stations could help Sinclair secure regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, which would make it the largest U.S. TV station owner. Last month, the company agreed to sell nine of its other TV stations to Standard Media Group for $441.7 million.
21st Century Fox has also entered into new network affiliation agreements with Sinclair (and licensees of certain stations to which Sinclair provides services), and will grant Sinclair options to acquire two of its stations, the CW affiliate WPWR in Chicago and the Fox affiliate KTBC in Austin, Texas, for potential proceeds of approximately $15 million and $160 million, respectively.
Completion of the stations acquisition by 21st Century Fox is anticipated for the second half of this calendar year, subject to regulatory approvals.
“This transaction illustrates Fox’s commitment to local broadcasting and we are pleased to add these stations to our existing portfolio,” Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, said in a statement. “This expansion will further enrich our valuable alignments with the NFL, including our new Thursday Night Football rights, MLB and college sports assets.”