Fox Pays $725 Million for Control of National Geographic

21st Century Fox said it agreed to expand its partnership with The National Geographic Society.

In addition to operating the National Geographic cable channels as a joint venture, the new partnership will include the National Geographic Society’s other media properties, including its magazines.

21st Century Fox is paying the society $725 million in the transaction.

The new joint venture, which succeeds the 127-year-old not-for-profit organization, will be called National Geographic Partners. 21st Century Fox will own 73% and the National Geographic Society will own 27%. The partnership will have equal representation on the board of directors, with the partners alternating having the chairman of the board annually.

Gary Knell, president and CEO of National Geographic Society, will be the first board chairman. Declan Moore, a 20-year veteran of the Society currently serving as chief media officer, has been appointed CEO of National Geographic Partners.

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to expand our partnership to continue to bring to audiences around the world, ‘The world and all that is in it,’ as National Geographic Society’s second president Alexander Graham Bell stated more than a century ago. We believe in the Society's mission of bringing the world to audiences through science, education and exploration,” said James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox.

The additional resources will enable The National Geographic Society to basically double its investment in an array of science, research and education programs, the parties said.

“The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures that we will have greater resources for this work, which includes our grant making programs that support scientists and explorers around the world,” said Knell. “As media organizations work to meet the increasing demand for high quality storytelling across multiple platforms, it’s clear that the opportunity to grow by more closely aligning our branded content and licensing assets is the right path. We now will have the scale and reach to continue to fulfill our mission long into the future. The Society’s work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It’s a virtuous cycle."

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.