Japan's TBS to sell baseball team

Network wants to offload BayStars as ad market lags

TOKYO – Tokyo Broadcasting System is looking to dispose of its loss-making baseball team, the Yokohama BayStars, as it continues to struggle to adjust to the realities of a still depressed advertising market.
 
TBS was the only major TV net to record a loss in the year to March, posting 2.3 billion yen ($27.5 million) of red ink; around 2 billion yen of that is accounted for by annual support to the BayStars.
 
The net bought a 70% stake in the BayStars for 14 billion yen in 2002, while a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings – parent company of rival Fuji TV – holds around 30%. The BayStars are the least successful outfit in the six-team Central League, finishing last for three consecutive seasons, and the team is now valued at around 10 billion yen.
 
JS Group, a home building equipment and toilet maker, and Yokohama-based electric retailer, Nojima Group, have both expressed interest in buying the team.
 
Companies such as Softbank and Rakuten, that have bought baseball teams in recent years have been given permission to rename them, raising brand awareness for the owner-companies through the heavy media coverage of Japan’s de facto national sport.
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