Message from Jeff Zucker:
As you have often heard, developing and running cable networks is one of the many things we do very well. Just look at USA, Sci Fi, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Universal HD, Chiller and Sleuth.
With that in mind, I am incredibly excited and pleased to announce that we are making a significant addition to our cable portfolio today, with the acquisition of Oxygen Media.
This move expands our very successful entertainment cable operations, led by Jeff Gaspin, and strengthens our ability to deliver to advertisers a highly desirable upscale, female audience. It will ensure the continued growth of our cable portfolio.
I am thrilled that JB Perrette and Monica Mekeel have agreed to lead the integration efforts over the next couple of months. We will keep you posted as things progress.
NBCU BUYING OXYGEN FOR $925 MILLION
NBC Universal is acquiring Oxygen Media, the female-focused cable network founded by current Chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne along with talk show host Oprah Winfrey and television producers Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner and Caryn Mandabach.
Under the agreement, NBCU will acquire Oxygen for $925 million. Net of financial assets, the purchase price is approximately $875 million. The network, which is available in more than 74 million homes, was launched in 2000. NBCU says Oxygen is the only fully distributed entertainment cable channel launched in the last decade.
NBCU said that the Oxygen purchase will be substantially self-funded through the sale of non-core assets. NBC Universal is selling its two independent Telemundo television stations: KWHY Los Angeles, one of its two Spanish-language stations in that city, and WKAQ in Puerto Rico.
Jeff Zucker, president and CEO, NBC Universal said: “In just seven short years, Oxygen has become the crown jewel of independent networks. It’s a terrific property with a clear mission, strong brand, and desirable audience. This acquisition increases our foothold in the advertiser-coveted young, upscale, female demographic, and perfectly complements our current roster of cable channels and plays to our strength of running and operating cable networks.”
NBCU said the acquisition is part of the company’s strategy to transform its portfolio and focus on assets with potential for rapid growth. Oxygen joins NBC Universal’s fully-owned cable entertainment networks, which include USA Network, Bravo and Sci Fi. Along with CNBC and MSNBC, NBC Universal’s cable networks account for 50% of the company’s profits, and are experiencing double-digit, year-over-year growth.
Upon completion of the transaction, Oxygen will be merged into NBC Universal’s Entertainment Cable division, which is managed by Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer, Universal Television Group.
Commenting on the announcement, Laybourne said: “This deal with NBCU is the best way for Oxygen to grow. In seven years, we built a spectacular brand for women. We built Oxygen from scratch—we became profitable, grew from zero to 74 million subscribers and produced original programming that resonates with young women everywhere. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. Now together with NBCU, Oxygen can become an even bigger brand.”
NBCU said Oxygen will strengthen NBC Universal’s position among upscale, female-focused media. Oxygen’s audience complements the viewers of Bravo and the Today show and visitors to iVillage, its online site for women.
Said Gaspin: “We are very excited to add Oxygen to our portfolio of cable assets. We believe we can take it to the next level by expanding the quality brand that has been created by Gerry and the rest of the team.”
The transaction is expected to close in November following the receipt of customary regulatory approvals.
[Check it Out: TV Newsday]