In a $725 million deal, the 127-year-old National Geographic magazine is leaving behind its nonprofit status and becoming a key piece of a new venture between its parent organization and 21st Century Fox.
The dramatic shift will place the venerable magazine, with its iconic yellow-rimmed covers, under a new venture called National Geographic Partners. Fox will own 73 percent of the new company, with the National Geographic Society owning 27 percent.
Those proportions are similar to the ownership split of National Geographic's cable TV channels. The new deal is being called an extension of that partnership, which began 18 years ago and now reportedly reaches more than 500 million homes worldwide.
James Murdoch, who took over the post of CEO of 21st Century Fox from his father, Rupert, this summer, said:
"We are privileged to have the opportunity to expand our partnership to continue to bring to audiences around the world, 'The world and all that is in it,' as National Geographic Society's second president Alexander Graham Bell stated more than a century ago. We believe in the Society's mission of bringing the world to audiences through science, education and exploration."
The new media company will be headed by CEO Declan Moore, a 20-year veteran of National Geographic who is currently its chief media officer. Gary Knell, the CEO of the National Geographic Society, will remain in that role.
"We will now have the scale and reach to fulfill our mission long into the future," Knell said. "The Society's work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It's a virtuous cycle."
National Geographic Partners will combine the National Geographic TV channels with a list of media properties that, according to a news release, includes "National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children's media; and ancillary activities, including travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and ecommerce businesses."
The deal will raise the value of the National Geographic Society's endowment to nearly $1 billion.