SBJ/Nov. 11-17, 2013/Media

Fox Sports looks to sell Scout back to Heckman

Fox Sports is in advanced negotiations to sell online college sports and recruiting network Scout.com back to Jim Heckman, the site’s founder, who sold it to Fox more than eight years ago.

Industry sources said the deal is set to close in the next several weeks, and will mark the departure of Fox Sports from the highly competitive recruiting content space, which also includes Yahoo-owned Rivals.com, ESPN’s Recruiting Nation, and 247Sports.com, now aligned with CBSSports.com.

Industry sources said this deal will be for significantly less than the estimated $60 million that the company paid Heckman for Scout.com in 2005. Heckman formed the site in 2001.

Fox Sports declined to comment, and Heckman was unavailable for comment.

Scout.com faced problems last year when an attempted rebranding and relaunch as Fox Sports Next, a move designed in part to foster greater integration between the site and Fox Sports’ national and regional TV properties, ran into significant technical issues. Many pages on the site were rendered inaccessible, angering subscribers, who pay about $100 a year for premium content. The rebranding was scrapped.

Since then, Scout.com has existed as a relatively small and mature entity within the Fox Sports portfolio. By selling it, the company is choosing to focus more of its energy and resources on more prominent holdings, such as the recently launched Fox Sports 1.

Scout.com traffic in many months has run between 2 million and 3 million unique visitors, according to comScore data, far smaller than Rivals.com’s audience and lacking the rapid growth seen by the 3-year-old 247Sports.com.

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