Two Seattle-area television stations will be joining Fox Corp. as the broadcast empire pushes further into the lucrative local sports market.
KCPQ Channel 13 and sister station KZJO Channel 22, also known as “JoeTV,” are being sold as part of a larger $350 million deal with Nexstar Media Group, which has owned the stations since last year, according to a statement Tuesday from Fox Corp.
KCPQ, which was already a Fox affiliate, had been the local broadcast partner of the Seahawks since 2012. KZJO, also a Fox affiliate, is the local broadcast partner of the Seattle Sounders, Seattle Storm and Seattle Thunderbirds.
The deal, slated to close in 2o20, will also see Milwaukee-based WITI go to Fox, while two Fox stations in Charlotte, North Carolina move to Nextstar.
Fox’s two Seattle acquisitions are part of strategic shift by Rupert Murdoch’s storied Fox media empire following a $71.3 billion deal this year that saw much of Fox’s entertainment business spun off in a merger with Disney. That deal left a smaller Fox Corp. to focus more narrowly on its highly profitable broadcast businesses, especially local sports.
Fox has long sought a station in Seattle as it pushes into markets cities with National Football League teams. Seattle was especially attractive to Fox, which owns some broadcast rights for teams in the National Football Conference, where the Seattle Seahawks have played since 2002.
“This acquisition expands the reach of one of Fox’s core assets, our television stations portfolio, and further strengthens what is already a highly profitable and cash generative business,” Fox Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement Tuesday.
A Fox Television Stations spokesperson could not comment on whether Fox’s acquisitions of KCPQ and KZJO would lead to any changes in staff or in editorial content or coverage.
The deal caps one of the longer chapters in local media history. Channel 13 hit the airwaves in 1953 as KMO-TV and went through a number of successive owners before being bought in 1998 by Tribune Media.
KZJO began life in 1985 as KTZZ and in 1999 was joined as a duopoly with KCPQ by Tribune Media, which then owned both stations. It has been an affiliate of Fox subsidiary MyNetworkTV since 2006.