FOX Sports Acquires Sports-Blog Network Yardbarker

Sports blog network Yardbarker took the content-sharing partnership it entered into with FOX Sports one step further, announcing that it has agreed to be acquired by the News Corp. division.

CEO Pete Vlastelica announced the transaction on the Yardbarker Blog:

Yardbarker has had a great relationship with FOX Sports that started two years ago as a low-key content-sharing partnership and evolved last year into a more formal editorial and sales collaboration. That partnership has been very successful from both parties’ perspectives, and today, we’re announcing what amounts to the next step in the evolution of the relationship, as well as a major milestone for this company and for each one of the over 800 independent sports sites in our network.

We’ve determined that the best way to continue growing Yardbarker’s presence in sports media is to team up permanently with the FOX Sports team. The acquisition closed today.

The decision to sell came down to this: We saw a huge opportunity to accelerate the growth of the Yardbarker brand and to expand the influence of the sports blogosphere, and we’re convinced that FOX Sports is the best partner to help make those things happen. FOX understands that the publishers in our network are doing important work to transform this business, and through this acquisition, they’re committing to lead in the development of the sports blogosphere from here on.

Becoming a part of FOX will ensure that Yardbarker has the resources it needs to drive more and more traffic and revenue toward the independent sports sites that we’ve built our business serving. If you are a publisher in our network, the only changes you’ll notice will be positive. We’re working with our new parents to increase distribution of your content through the various channels that FOX controls, and to line up even more brand advertisers to run high-CPM campaigns on your sites. Publishers will still run their sites independently and maintain their current editorial control; payment arrangements will remain the same. We will send out more information about this deal to publishers in the Yardbarker Network shortly.

Yardbarker will continue to operate as a standalone organization based in San Francisco. Everyone on the team will still have a job, and the four founders will all be sticking around after the deal closes — none of us has any plans to leave. We all still have a lot of work to do.

We will continue to run Yardbarker like we’ve always run it — focused on curating the best sports-blog content on the Web, establishing a unique voice for our brand, building products that delight our users, and supporting the independent publishers whose talents are changing sports media. Only now, our work will be amplified by the reach of one of the biggest sports-media brands in the world.

We think this is something that everyone who cares about sports blogs and independent sports media should be very excited about. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.