Time Warner buys Bleacher Report sports website

By Liana B. Baker (Reuters) – Time Warner Inc said its Turner Broadcasting unit had bought sports website the Bleacher Report to bulk up the media company’s Internet sports presence, which includes websites such as NASCAR.com and NCAA.com.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source close to the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it said Time Warner was paying under $200 million for the San Francisco-based company.

A second source familiar with the Bleacher Report said that figure does not include $20 million in cash on the website’s balance sheet that Time Warner is paying back to Bleacher’s investors. That brings the deal price north of $200 million, the person said.

A Time Warner spokesman declined to comment on financial terms of the deal. The sports website will now operate as part of Turner’s Sports division, the company said in a statement.

Bleacher Report publishes more than 1000 articles a day on its website, which drew 10.1 million total unique visitors in June, according to ComScore. Bleacher Report was the ninth-most visited sports website in June in the United States in terms of total unique visitors, according to ComScore data. The top U.S. sports website is Yahoo Sports!, followed by ESPN.

The second source said Bleacher Report was on track to generate $30 million in revenue this year. The person added that the company was increasing its revenue 100 percent year-over-year and was close to breaking even.

Bleacher Report had raised $40.5 million in venture funding to date and was backed by firms such as Crosslink Capital and Oak Investment Partners.

In November 2011, Turner said it would hand the business operations of Golf.com and Sports Illustrated’s website, SI.com, back to Time Inc, the company’s publishing division. The process took several months.

The company said on a conference call last Wednesday that growth of its cable networks division’s advertising revenue had been hurt partly by “the shift of management of our digital sports properties, SI.com and Golf.com, back to Time Inc.”

Turner also shares broadcast rights to the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament with CBS Corp and has a deal to manage NCAA.com’s website until 2024.

Time Warner shares closed up 23 cents at $41.61 on Monday.

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