Fox Buys TMZ from WarnerMedia

Expanding Fox's digital and unscripted content footprint

Last week, Fox Corporation said it is acquiring celebrity and entertainment brand TMZ from WarnerMedia. The acquisition will help Fox expand into digital media and unscripted content, reports Fox Business. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, insiders say TMZ is valued at under $50 million. According to Fox Business, talks about buying TMZ began before AT&T decided to spin off WarnerMedia and merge with Discovery Inc. in a deal valued at $43 billion.

TMZ programs including “TMZ on TV” and “TMZ Live Air” currently air on network affiliates owned by Fox Television studios, says The New York Times. Another program, “TMZ Sports,” is broadcast on Fox-owned cable channel FS1. TMZ has also produced  special programming for Fox’s entertainment division, including “Harry & Meghan: The Royals in Crisis” and “UFOs: The Pentagon Proof.”

Harvey Levin signs multi-year deal

TMZ co-founder and managing editor Harvey Levin signed a multi-year deal with Fox and will remain in his role. He will report to Rob Wade, who is Fox Entertainment’s president of alternative entertainment and specials. The Hollywood Reporter says that Levin was likely to leave WarnerMedia.

“Harvey Levin created a groundbreaking destination for entertainment news, and for the past 15+ years TMZ has celebrated great success,” said Channing Dungey, chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group, in a statement. “TMZ will now be more closely aligned with the distributor of the popular content they create, and WarnerMedia wishes Harvey and everyone on the team the best as they venture into a new partnership with the talented team at Fox.”

“TMZ has been an impactful program for our FOX television stations and broadcast partners for many years,” said Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch in a statement.

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He also commented on the value he believes TMZ co-founder, managing editor and TV host brings to the table.

“The unique and powerful brand Harvey has created in TMZ has forever changed the entertainment industry and we’re excited to welcome them to Fox,” said Murdoch.

TMZ headlines as of 9/19/21. Image courtesy of TMZ.

Fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2021 results

The news comes just one month after Fox released its fourth quarter and full year results for fiscal year 2021 which showed strong growth over 2020 results. For the fourth quarter, for the period ended June 30, 2021, Fox reported net income of $272 million, compared to $145 million in the prior year quarter. For the full fiscal year 2021, Fox reported net income of $2.2 billion, compared to $1.06 billion in the prior year quarter.

“Our exceptional fiscal 2021 financial results highlight the strength of our distinct strategy and serve as a foundation for sustained operating momentum. Despite the challenges presented by COVID, our businesses continued to inform and entertain households across the country,” said Murdoch. “And in the midst of it all, we strengthened our core brands and expanded our digital capabilities, which together provide a robust platform for future growth.”

“We look forward to the year ahead, anticipating the return of normalized sports and entertainment calendars and the start of the midterm election cycle. Fox’s core live event programming, coupled with its growing digital businesses, will continue to deliver audiences on an unmatched scale for our advertising and distribution partners,” Murdoch added.

Insider Take

Owned by Rupert Murdoch, Fox Corp is known for its tabloid-style news, including ownership of The Sun (U.K.), The Daily Telegraph (Australia) and The New York Post. TMZ has a similar brand and will fit in well with its new sister brands. On the AT&T- owned WarnerMedia side of things, this deal will help AT&T to divest itself of another asset to pay down its debt before their deal with Discovery Inc. is complete.