As AT&T's WarnerMedia sheds the asset, founder Harvey Levin has signed a multi-year deal with Fox and will keep overseeing day-to-day operations.
Fox Corp-owned Fox Entertainment has acquired the TMZ entertainment platform and its media properties from AT&T-owned WarnerMedia.
Fox has acquired all of the company behind the daily syndicated TV shows TMZ and TMZ Live, which have aired on Fox’s O&O stations since they debuted in 2007 and 2011, respectively. The TMZ production banner was founded in 2005 by Harvey Levin, the former KCBS-TV Los Angeles correspondent, and the late Telepictures executive Jim Paratore as a division of Warner Bros.’ Telepictures production unit.
Levin will continue to run the company and serve as a frontman for the TV shows. In the new configuration, he will report on day-to-day matters to Rob Wade, Fox Entertainment’s president of alternative and specials, and the TMZ entity itself will be added to the portfolio of Fox Entertainment chief Charlie Collier. Fox’s syndication arm, Fox First Run, will take over sales and distribution of the syndicated programs from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.
The deal includes all of TMZ’s existing assets including the TMZ Sports digital site and its TooFab celebrity, culture and lifestyle unit that also houses TMZ.com.
Fox Television Stations president Jack Abernethy will also be involved in steering TMZ to become a content engine for the company’s networks, digital platforms and TV stations.
Speaking about the acquisition, Lachlan Murdoch, chairman-CEO of Fox Corp, said: “The unique and powerful brand Harvey has created in TMZ has forever changed the entertainment industry and we’re excited to welcome them to Fox. ‘TMZ’ has been an impactful program for our Fox television stations and broadcast partners for many years and I know Jack Abernethy and Charlie Collier will find creative ways to utilise and expand this content in effective and compelling ways for our audiences.”
The TMZ sale comes as WarnerMedia parent AT&T has been on a campaign to sell off non-core assets to pare down its $150bn-plus debt load.
Nonetheless, Warner Bros. Television Group chairman Channing Dungey offered a farewell salute to Levin and his team as the split became final.
Dungey added: “Harvey Levin created a groundbreaking destination for entertainment news, and for the past 15-plus years TMZ has celebrated great success. TMZ will now be more closely aligned with the distributor of the popular content they create, and WarnerMedia wishes Harvey and everyone on the team the best as they venture into a new partnership with the talented team at Fox.”