(NWSA) News Corporation Acquires SportsTime Ohio

According to a Reuters news report, News Corporation‘s (NWSA) FoxSports Media Group acquired SportsTime Ohio, a Cleveland based regional sports network.

The acquisition is expected to enhance its portfolio of regional sports channels and strengthen the company’s Fox Sports Media Group’s position in the lucrative sports entertainment business, where it competes with Walt Disney Company’s (DIS) sports coverage network, ESPN.

Moreover, with the buyout, News Corp. gained exclusive long-term local broadcasting rights for Cleveland Indians baseball games. The move will also facilitate the company to generate incremental revenues through advertising and subscriptions.

Earlier, in a similar move, the company entered into a deal to acquire 49% stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES). The agreement also provides an option to the diversified media conglomerate to increase its stake up to 80% after three years.

News Corporation strives to add diverse revenue streams to hedge against the persisting economic volatility. The company is also focusing on the emerging markets to consolidate its media business, since these regions have millions of viewers.

The company remains on track to split into two separate publicly traded publishing and media and entertainment entities. There has been immense pressure from shareholders to divest the publishing arm, which has been grappling with lower operating profit compared with the entertainment unit.

The Publishing Company (to be known as News Corporation) will comprise publishing businesses, education unit and the integrated marketing services business. On the other hand, Entertainment Company (to be named as Fox group) will encompass cable and television assets, filmed entertainment, and direct satellite broadcasting businesses.

The company announced Rupert Murdoch as the Chairman of the publishing entity as well as the Chairman and CEO of the entertainment company. Alongside, the company named Chase Carey as the president and COO of the new entertainment company, while James Murdoch will continue as the deputy COO.

The split is expected to augur well for News Corporation, which has been in troubled waters since the revelation of the phone hacking scandal that eventually led to the closure of the publication of ‘The News of the World’. Moreover, the company was held back from acquiring the remaining 61% stake in the British Sky Broadcasting Group.

Currently, we have a long-term ‘Neutral’ recommendation on the stock. Moreover, News Corporation, which competes with Time Warner Inc. (TWX), holds a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term ‘Hold’ rating.

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