Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 193 outlets across the country in 89 markets, is expected to buy 21 regional Fox Sports channels throughout the United States for over $10 Million according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Sources within The Journal said that the agreement is “expected to be announced as early as Friday”. With this acquisition, Sinclair would essentially have a much bigger presence in the cable television market. The bigger channels where Sinclair would have their eyes on the most are Fox Sports Los Angeles & Fox Sports Detroit according to The Journal.
Disney bought the Fox Sports regional networks from when it bought the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, but had to agree to sell them in order to get approval of the deal from the United States Government. When asked about the deal Patrick Crakes, a sports media consultant said “Sinclair got a great deal and should be able to cut costs and leverage the RSN’s (Regional Sports Networks) and their stations together effectively with distributors & advertiser”
This isn’t Sinclair’s first time getting into the sports TV network business. It partnered with the New York Yankees to acquire 80% control of the YES Network, another network once controlled by Fox, that was valued at $3.45 Billion. However, the sale hasn’t been finalized and it seems that in the sale Amazon.com is labelled as a partner.
However, the price for all the Fox Regional Network surprised observers & analysts across the board as it was predicted that the deal would be around the $16-$20 Billion ballpark, no pun intended. Plus it seems that Sinclair isn’t the only one vying for the regional Fox Sports networks as according to the report other possible owners include Liberty Media Corp, and Big 3 Basketball LLC. Both of which are owned by entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz and rapper Ice Cube respectively. Though it is worth noting that Fox Business reported that Sinclair & Disney had a “handshake agreement” for the networks that had yet to be finalized.
If Sinclair does manage to finalize the deal & buy the Fox regional sports networks it would be a big win for them after their attempt to buy Tribune Media Co. last year was blocked by the Federal Communications Commission. It would also expand on their already growing sports presence as it owns The Tennis Channel and is launching its own regional sports channel in Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Cubs.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Deadline.com