Fox Sports Media Group has reached an agreement to acquire SportsTime Ohio, the regional sports network that has been the TV home of the Cleveland Indians since 2006.
FSMG, through a deal The Cleveland Plain Dealer estimates at some $235 million, also has secured long-term exclusive regional TV rights for the Indians that will pay the club some $40 million annually. Before moving to SportsTime Ohio in the middle of the last decade, Indians games had been carried locally by Fox Sports Ohio. It was unclear at press time if FSMG has decided whether it will maintain and rename SportsTime Ohio or reassign the Indians' contests to FS Ohio .
Fox, which announced the deal on Dec. 28, was looking to complete the transaction by year's end in deference to new tax ramifications in 2013.
SportsTime Ohio serves more than 5 million homes throughout the state of Ohio, as well as portions of Kentucky, Indiana, western Pennsylvania, western New York, and West Virginia. Aside from broadcasting Indians games, the RSN also features Cleveland Browns programming and events from the NCAA's Mid-American Conference.
In addition to the Reds, FS Ohio features games/programming around the Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew, Xavier Musketeers and Cincinnati Bearcats.
"The acquisition of SportsTime Ohio solidifies our business in Ohio, and Fox Sports Media Group's new long-term agreement with the Indians reunites the team with the Fox Sports family," said Jeff Krolik, executive vice president of Fox Sports Networks in announcing the deal. "We look forward to once again showcasing the Indians to their fans, as well as working with the Indians ownership to continue to enhance the value of this iconic franchise."
Noted Indians CEO Paul Dolan: "We look forward to a long-term partnership with Fox that will continue to bring state-of-the-art broadcasts of Indians games to the fans, while strengthening the franchise and enhacing our ability to build competitive teams."
News Corp., Fox's parent company, recently acquired a 49% stake in YES Network, the cable TV home of the New York Yankees, and remains in negotiations to renew its rights deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.