US broadcast group Sinclair has confirmed the acquisition of 21 Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) and Fox College Sports from Disney in a deal worth US$10.6 billion (€9.6 billion).
This portfolio represents the largest collection of RSNs in the US marketplace, and has an extensive footprint which consists of exclusive local rights to 42 professional teams consisting of 14 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, 16 National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, and 12 National Hockey League (NHL) teams. This is added to Sinclair’s existing sports business which includes Marquee Sports Network (a recently announced joint venture with the Chicago Cubs), Tennis Channel and Tennis Media Company (dedicated to live tennis events and tennis lifestyle), and Ring of Honor Wrestling.
“This is a very exciting transaction for Sinclair to be able to acquire highly complementary assets,” commented Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair. “While consumer viewing habits have shifted, the tradition of watching live sports and news remains ingrained in our culture. As one of the largest local news producers in the country and an experienced producer of sports content, we are ideally positioned to transfer our skills to deliver and expand our focus on greater premium sports programming.”
Christine McCarthy, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Walt Disney Company added: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Sinclair for the sale of these 21 RSNs, subject to the conditions of the consent decree with the US Department of Justice.”
The other Fox-owned RSN, the YES Network, was sold back to the New York Yankees by Disney in March for US$3.5 billion (€3.13 billion). Disney had previously announced its intention to divest 22 Fox-owned RSNs in order to end the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s investigation into its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.