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Update: It’s Done. Time Warner Buys Bleacher Report, Price Reportedly $175M

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Update: TBS has now confirmed that it has bought Bleacher Report. The division will become a part of the Turner Sports division. That group currently manages digital properties on behalf of the NBA, NCAA and PGA, and it oversees ad sales for NASCAR.COM as well as a strategic sales relationship with Yahoo! Sports. It has 86 million unique visitors. The price of the deal was not disclosed but is thought to be in the region of $200 million, with the WSJ reporting it in the region of $175 million.

“Bleacher Report is a strategic acquisition that further enhances Turner’s portfolio of sports offerings, as well as reflects our continuing commitment to bring fans greater content across all screens throughout the entire year,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports of Turner Broadcasting, in a statement. “As brand builders and content providers, we were attracted to Bleacher Report’s fast growth to a leading marketplace position and a valued consumer destination. The site will continue to innovate and provide users and sports fans with branded news and information.”

Original story with more background on the deal follows below.

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a deal between Bleacher Report and Time Warner — and according to reports from Bloomberg and AllThingsD, this is the signal that Time Warner division Turner Broadcasting System is finalizing an acquisition of the sports site network.

The prices being reported are in a range around the $200 million mark: Bloomberg says the deal is under $200 million. SAI notes a price of $175 million. And AllThingsD notes that Bleacher Report investors were looking for an exit above $200 million. Bleacher Report has raised $40.5 million from investors including Crosslink Capital, Oak Investment Partners, and Hillsven Capital. The deal, at the very least, is worth a minimum of $68.2 million, which is the threshold that triggers an FTC investigation.

The FTC investigates not only mergers and acquisitions, but investments. On the same docket from Friday where Bleacher Report and Time Warner appeared, so did General Atlantic Partners and Box. The cloud company announced a $125 million round led by the VC firm at the end of July.

Time Warner’s interest in Bleacher Report comes out of the fact that the broadcaster has passed control of Sports Illustrated’s website and golfing portal PGA.com into the hands of Time Inc. earlier this year — although both are still branded as Turner Broadcasting on the sites themselves. That might mean that if this is an acquisition and it goes through, these sites will continue to remain separate at least in part.

Bleacher Report, which was founded in 2006, gets around 10 million users per month writes Bloomberg, and it has an astounding 6,000 contributors, most of whom write for free. It was started by four friends, David Finocchio (now VP Content & Product), Dave Nemetz (VP Business Development), Bryan Goldberg (VP Revenue) and Zander Freund, who calls himself the original ‘face’ of Bleacher Report membership as the Community GM. He has left the company and now works as an advisor to other startups, while remaining a shareholder in Bleacher Report. Brian Grey is currently the CEO.

We’ve reached out to TBS and Bleacher Report for comment and will update as we learn more. Meanwhile, it appears to be business as usual at the sports site, with the latest post on its blog about a writer meetup in New York.

For Release: August 6, 2012

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Acquires Bleacher Report
Leading Sports Digital Property Joins Turner Sports Portfolio

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. has acquired Bleacher Report (B/R), one of the fastest-growing sports digital properties on the Internet, it was announced today by David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports of Turner Broadcasting. San Francisco-based B/R (http://www.bleacherreport.com) and its popular mobile offerings will now operate as part of the Turner Sports division.

B/R delivers original and entertaining sports editorial content and is a leading sports media destination, delivering over 10 million monthly unique visitors. The company has developed a next-generation publishing model powered by an expanding base of passionate and knowledgeable contributors who deliver high-quality content that readers crave at the team and topic level.

“Bleacher Report is a strategic acquisition that further enhances Turner’s portfolio of sports offerings, as well as reflects our continuing commitment to bring fans greater content across all screens throughout the entire year,” said Levy. “As brand builders and content providers, we were attracted to Bleacher Report’s fast growth to a leading marketplace position and a valued consumer destination. The site will continue to innovate and provide users and sports fans with branded news and information. With our expansive digital rights and resources, Turner will further ensure Bleacher Report’s continued growth and success.”

Levy added, “With the acquisition of Bleacher Report, we have added another dimension to our portfolio of digital and mobile properties that will enable us to offer our advertising partners integrated opportunities across all screens and demos that will enhance our ability to monetize sports programming throughout the entire year.”

“Bleacher Report was created to put fans first, and we are excited to integrate our innovative content publishing model and engaging multi-platform consumer digital media experience within Turner Sports’ world-class television and digital content portfolio,” said Brian Grey, in his newly-expanded role as chief executive officer, Bleacher Report & senior vice president, Turner Sports. “Together the portfolio will define how content creators, consumers and marketers come together around the sports team and topic content experience that fans will consume across every screen.”

Turner Sports currently manages digital properties on behalf of the NBA, NCAA and PGA, oversees ad sales for NASCAR.COM and has a strategic sales relationship with Yahoo! Sports. B/R will complement a preeminent collection of brands within the Turner Digital portfolio spanning entertainment, sports, kids, news and comedy destinations across broadband, mobile and tablet. The Turner Digital portfolio currently reaches 86 million unique visitors a month.

In addition to its digital portfolio, Turner Sports broadcasts a number of events year-round on TBS, TNT and truTV, including the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, the PGA Championship and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Its on-air roster of announcers and analysts includes Marv Albert, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Cal Ripken, Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Ron Darling, David Wells and Kyle Petty, among others.

Grey will continue to oversee B/R’s day-to-day operations out of its San Francisco offices and will report directly to Lenny Daniels, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Turner Sports. Together, Grey and Matt Hong, senior vice president and general manager of operations for Turner Sports, will partner in the overall management and integration of the Bleacher Report operations into the Turner Sports portfolio.

Dave Finocchio, founder and chief content & product officer, Bleacher Report & vice president, Turner Sports; Sam Parnell, chief technology officer, Bleacher Report & vice president, Turner Sports and Rich Calacci, Chief Revenue Officer, Bleacher Report & senior vice president, Turner Digital Ad Sales will all stay on board within their expanded roles.

On this transaction, Turner Broadcasting was advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Bleacher Report was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Latham & Watkins LLP.

About Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report (B/R) is the Web’s leading publisher of original and entertaining sports content and is one of the fastest growing sports media Web sites in the U.S. Since launching in 2008, B/R’s Web site has grown to an audience of more than 10 million monthly unique visitors. The company’s distinguished editorial team leads more than 2,000 core contributors, and directs Bleacher Report’s unique data-driven approach to creating and programming content. The result is first-rate sports commentary that gives B/R’s audience the stories they want to read in real-time around the teams and topics they are most passionate about. B/R’s editorial content is also syndicated to a number of national and regional publishing partners including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Philly.com, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and Seattle PI. In addition, more than 2 million fans subscribe to B/R’s sport-and-team-specific email newsletters and more than 1 million users have installed B/R’s leading Team Stream™ mobile and tablet app, which provide a comprehensive mix of content that engages a broad array of sports fans at the team and topic level.

About Turner Sports
Turner Sports, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is an industry leader in televised and online sports programming, airing championship-level sporting events on TBS, TNT and truTV, and managing some of the most popular sports sites on the Internet. Turner Sports’ television lineup includes the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, NASCAR and professional golf. The company’s digital portfolio includes NASCAR.COM, NCAA.com and March Madness Live, PGATOUR.COM and PGA.com, as well as an accompanying collection of mobile websites and connected device apps. Turner Sports and the NBA also jointly manage NBA Digital, which includes NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA Mobile, the NBA Game Time App, NBADLEAGUE.com and WNBA.com.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news; entertainment; animation and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.