Fox Corp. said it has acquired celebrity news platform TMZ from AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia unit, as the company looks to expand in digital media and unscripted content.
Terms of the deal weren’t released but TMZ is being valued at less than $50 million, people familiar with the matter said. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the companies were negotiating terms that would value TMZ at between $100 million and $125 million.
Fox already has deep ties to TMZ, which owns a popular website and produces several TV shows. Fox local-television stations carry the TMZ shows "TMZ" and "TMZ Live." TMZ has produced specials for Fox’s entertainment unit, including "Harry & Meghan: The Royals in Crisis" and "UFOs: The Pentagon Proof," and a sports gossip show that is carried by the Fox Sports 1 cable network.
TMZ co-founder and managing editor Harvey Levin has also produced shows for the Fox News channel.
Mr. Levin, who launched TMZ in 2005 and serves as host of its TV shows, will remain in charge of operations. In a statement, Mr. Levin said being under the Fox roof will create new opportunities to grow TMZ. "We couldn’t be more charged,’’ he said.
At WarnerMedia, TMZ was something of an outlier. Its reporting on movie and TV stars with whom other parts of the Warner empire had business relationships created tensions inside the company, current and former Warner Bros. executives have said.
Mr. Levin’s agreement with Warner Bros. was expiring and he wasn’t expected to stay on if the asset had remained there, a person close to the situation said.
Fox, which primarily produces unscripted fare and sports, will likely have fewer conflicts with TMZ.
"TMZ has been an impactful program for our FOX television stations and broadcast partners for many years," Lachlan Murdoch, Fox Corp.’s executive chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Fox Entertainment Chief Executive Charlie Collier added, "We see great potential building upon TMZ’s brand and track-record and adding new creative ventures with Harvey and the TMZ team."
Earlier this year, Fox acquired Outkick Media, a news platform that covers sports, politics, and culture founded by outspoken commentator Clay Travis.
Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.
The talks between WarnerMedia and Fox predated AT&T’s decision earlier this year to spin off WarnerMedia, after less than three years in control of the entertainment giant. In May, AT&T and Discovery Inc. agreed to combine their entertainment assets into a new stand-alone, publicly-traded company called Warner Bros. Discovery. AT&T shareholders would retain a 70% stake in the new business.
TMZ is among several assets that AT&T has shopped since John Stankey became the telecom company’s chief executive in mid-2020. AT&T in December reached a deal to sell its animation streaming service, Crunchyroll, to Sony Corp. for $1.175 billion. That transaction closed last month.