News Corp. Buys Online Sports Sites

The newly formed Internet division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. acquired Scout Media Inc., a Seattle-based online sports company that operates 200 Web sites, the companies said Thursday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Scout's network, which includes sites such as Dawgman.com and eDuck Sports, draws more than 200,000 subscribers who pay $9.95 a month for access to premium sports-related stories. The company, which also offers about half of its stories for free, said that a total of about 2.4 million users visit each month.

News Corp. created its Fox Interactive Media division last month, doling out $580 million to purchase MySpace.com operator Intermix Media. The company intends to integrate Scout.com into FoxSports.com.

Scout Media Chief Executive Jim Heckman--who co-founded Scout.com in 2001 after the liquidation sale of Rivals.com, another online sports company he had operated--told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he signed a multi-year employment agreement with Fox, and that the company would remain based in Seattle.

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Peter Gruman, Scout's executive vice president and general manager for online publishing, said the deal will give the company greater reach, as well as access to a wide range of content, including TV footage. "This deal opens up an enormous door into expanding our coverage of local sports, as it's consistent with the Fox broadcast model of having regional coverage," he said. "It also allows for wonderful cross-promotion opportunities. As broadband penetration increases, it's going to allow some really exciting integration between what is online and what is on television."

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