Fox likes its Fuel after all
Late last year, media conglomerate News Corp. tried to sell its tiny Fuel TV cable channel to Viacom Inc. The rationale was that the extreme sports channel geared toward young guys between 13 and 34 might make a better fit within Viacom's youth-centric MTV universe. But after months of haggling, News Corp. decided not to sell Fuel and took it off the table, according to three people familiar with the situation.
Trying to hammer out a deal simply became too complicated, said one knowledgeable person.
A second person said that Fox executives ultimately decided that Los Angeles-based Fuel -- which revels in the lifestyle and culture of such sports as skateboarding, surfing and motocross -- could have some upside. The game changer, according that person, came after difficult contract negotiations at the end of last year between News Corp. and cable operator Time Warner Cable.
During that back-and-forth, Time Warner Cable executives didn't make a fuss about carrying Fuel, which is available in about 30 million homes. Time Warner Cable agreed to offer it to additional customers. That gave the 7-year-old property an image boost within the company, proving to News Corp. that Fuel wasn't necessarily a slacker in the Fox Cable Networks portfolio.
-- Meg James