A report at Bloomberg.com says that the Fox regional sports networks are drawing a lot of interest from potential bidders. While they are part of the package 21st Century Fox has agreed to sell to Disney for $71.3 billion, the Department of Justice has said Disney will have to sell those assets before a deal can become official.
According to Nabila Ahmed and Gerry Smith at Bloomberg several companies have thrown their hat in the ring hoping to get a deal done with Disney. They include traditional broadcasters like Sinclair, digital streaming giants like YouTube and Amazon, and investment firms outside of the television industry like Blackstone, Global Partners, and Apollo Global Management.
The Fox RSNs hold the exclusive television rights for 44 Major League Baseball, NHL, and NBA teams and the price is expected to reach well into the double digit billions, if the networks are sold as a single unit, according to industry analysts.
A sale process for the networks could kick off within weeks, the people said, even though Disney has at least three months after it completes its Fox asset acquisition to offload them. An auction could value the properties at about $20 billion thanks to high profitability and strong cash generation, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
John Malone, who co-founded Fox’s RSN business with Rupert Murdoch is said tone interested in buying the networks as well.
Media mogul John Malone, who teamed up with Fox founder Rupert Murdoch in the mid-1990s in a regional sports venture in a bid to shake ESPN’s hold on sports, has also expressed an interest in getting back into regional sports networks. The package of networks Disney is selling include some that were owned by the Fox/Liberty Networks back then.
The Disney/21st Century Fox merger has been approved by shareholders of both companies, but still has hurdles to jump through around the world. It does appear though that once the deal becomes official Disney will look to move fast on either selling or auctioning off the RSNs.