Amazon enters bidding for 22 Fox regional sports networks
Amazon, the online retail giant, has entered the bidding for the 22 regional sports television networks across USA formerly owned by Fox and now being sold by Walt Disney.
Amazon, which has been building a strong sports portfolio in USA and internationally, is bidding for all of the networks, which show games played by 44 professional teams across MLB, the NBA and the NHL, including the YES Network, the TV home of MLB's New York Yankees, CNBC reported today.
Blackstone, the private equity firm, and the Yankees are also bidding for the YES Network.
In addition to Amazon, Apollo Global Management, KKR & Co, Blackstone, Sinclair Broadcast Group and TEGNA also made first-round bids for the full slate of networks, the same sources told CNBC.
The second round of bids are expected before year-end and due diligence on the bids begins next week.
Late last month it emerged that Fox could effectively mount a buyback bid for the channels, which formed part of this year’s deal in which Disney agreed to acquire Fox’s TV production studios, movie studios and several of its general entertainment cable networks for $71.3 billion.
While Fox did not submit a bid in the first round for the networks, it could still join the second round.
In June, the US Department of Justice gave approval for the Disney deal, on the condition that it sold off Fox’s regional sports networks.
The networks have been valued by Guggenheim Securities at $25 billion, although likely bidders and industry observers are reported to have claimed they may only fetch between $16 billion and $20 billion.
The regional sports networks have traditionally been the home of local matches for major league franchises, albeit YouTube TV, the subscription service of the Google-owned video platform, has eaten into the market in Major League Soccer this year.
During the 2018 regular season, YouTube TV exclusively live-streamed all locally televised matches of Orlando City (games continued to be locally televised on WRDQ TV27, part of the Cox Media Group) and exclusively streamed 21 regionally televised Seattle Sounders matches.
It also holds exclusive local market rights to Los Angeles FC’s home matches, which marked the first time that a North American professional sports team had agreed an exclusive rights deal with a digital rather than a TV network.