In a move that would surely please Fox News chief (and Ohio native) Roger Ailes, News Corp is expected to announce it is acquiring regional sports network SportsTime Ohio. It’s currently owned by the Dolan family, which also owns the Cleveland Indians baseball team. The price tag is said to be about $230M, according to Reuters sources. This would be the second RSN deal for News Corp in less than a month: In November, the company acquired a 49% stake in The New York Yankees’ YES Network, giving it local media rights to the Bronx Bombers and Brooklyn Nets. That deal was valued at $3B. Fox Sports is also negotiating a 25-year extension of its agreement to carry Los Angeles Dodgers games in a potential $6B-$7B deal.
Fox Sports Ohio already carries Cleveland Cavaliers and Cincinnati Reds games, and the SportsTime deal would give it broadcast rights to Indians games as well as Cleveland Browns and Ohio State games. SportsTime Ohio reaches an estimated 2.8M customers, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which said that News Corp’s rival for sports programming, Time Warner Cable, also bid for the network. Fox Sports held rights to the Indians games before STO was launched by Larry Dolan in 2006. It’s expected that STO will continue to operate since Fox will need two networks in Ohio to carry its programming, the newspaper report said.
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