After months of deep discussions, Time Warner has sold Atlanta-based regional cable channel Turner South to Fox. Seven-year-old Turner South, a division of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., reaches about 8 million subscribers across six states with mainly sports programming including Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers games.
In acquiring the network, Fox also inherits the long-term broadcast deals Turner South had with Atlanta’s baseball, basketball and hockey teams.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry analysts have estimated Turner South to be worth about $200 million. With the addition of Turner South, Fox Cable Networks (FCN) now owns 15 regional cable networks and partners with 44 MLB, NBA and NHL franchises.
FCN already owns Atlanta-based FSN South, the country’s largest regional sports network with more than 11 million subscribers.
Time Warner put Turner South and the Atlanta Braves up for sale in December. Fox, which at one point owned the Los Angeles Dodgers, did not buy the Braves as part of this deal. Turner South, available in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina, gives Fox ownership of two sports-focused networks in the Southeast.
Fox could convert Turner South into an all-sports network by dropping its other programming – Turner South programs some old movies and low-wattage original series – but regardless, the second channel gives Fox the opportunity to purchase more regional sports. Fox operates two separate regional sports networks in L.A.
In a statement, TBS Inc.CEO Phil Kent called the sale “a win for Turner Broadcasting and for viewers of the Fox Cable Networks. It creates significant financial return for our company, adds quality programming to Fox’s portfolio and enhances the value for consumers of a popular cable service.”
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