The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday that Time Warner was deep in negotiations with Fox to divest Turner South. The deal could significantly add more sports rights deals to its regional sports network, FSN South. Turner South -- which has vaulted into cable’s top 10 in ratings on a number of occasions with its presentations of Atlanta Braves games -- aired 53 of the club’s contests in 2005, and it was expected to air around the same number during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
FSN South is the groups and the nation’s largest regional sports network, with 11.3 million subscribers in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North & South Carolina -- already has rights to some 25 Braves games that it can show in some markets. It also holds rights to Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies NBA games, as well as MLB’s Baltimore Orioles and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators.
Through a deal Turner Sports signed with MLB last November, TBS which will present around 70 Braves games each of the next two seasons, is slated to air 45 contests a year from 2008-12. However, it holds the rights to air more than 80 games on other regional and local networks within the Turner family. Those rights would presumably be assigned to the purchaser of Turner South. A Turner executive said that should the network be sold to Fox, the entertainment programming on Turner South could migrate to a broadband service. Since 1999, Turner South has offered an array of original fare centering on regional sensibilities with such programs as Southern Living Presents and Liars & Legends. Link: AJC Feb 17, ’06 – Turner South sale to FoxMay be in works
UPDATE 02/24: News Corp’s Fox Networks Group has purchased regional cable channel Turner South for about $375 million (report by The Hollywood Reporter). The move will strengthen of Fox Sports South, the 11-million subscriber service that dominates cable sports in the South. Links: Mediaweek Feb 23, 06 – Fox Cable Nets Purchase Turner South and Broadcasting & Cable Feb 23, 06 – Time Warner Sells Turner South also The Hollywood Reporter Feb 24, 06 – Fox Cable Nets to acquire Turner South