Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying 21 regional sports networks from Disney Los Angeles Times

Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying 21 regional sports networks from Disney Los Angeles Times Television station powerhouse Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc has reached a deal to buy 21 regional sports networks from Walt Disney Co

, according to a person familiar with the deal, which will accelerate the Maryland companys push into major television markets Two of the cable channels included in the deal — Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West — are based in Los Angeles The channels — which televise Angels, Clippers, Kings and Ducks games — previously were part of Rupert Murdochs 21st Century Fox entertainment company Disney acquired the sports channels in March as part of its dollar 71 billion takeover of much of 21st Century Fox But the Burbank entertainment giant wasnt allowed to keep them

Last summer, the US Justice Department demanded that Disney sell the regional sports networks as a condition of its takeover of Fox Antitrust regulators were concerned that Disney, which already owns sports juggernaut ESPN, would have too much sway in the TV sports market The government gave Disney 90 days to unload the channels after it acquired them

The clock started ticking at the close of the Disney Fox transaction Fox Business Network first reported that Sinclair had won the auction for the channels The channels also drew interest from Liberty Media Corp and Big3, an upstart basketball league run by the rapper/actor Ice Cube and Hollywood businessman Jeff Kwatinetz The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that Sinclair had reached a deal valued at more than dollar 10 billion for the channels

A person familiar with the auction but not authorized to comment confirmed that Disney and Sinclair had agreed to the sale The deal could be announced as early as Friday Representatives of Disney and Sinclair did not respond to requests for comment The auction for the Fox Sports channels began last fall But the hoped for frenzied bidding war failed to materialize because such major entertainment companies as Comcast Corp

, AT T Incs WarnerMedia and even Fox Corp, sat on the sidelines Fox, still controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family, had considered reclaiming the channels, but Fox executives were discouraged by the weakening economics of cable television Consumers have been cancelling their pay TV service in favor of lower cost streaming platforms

In addition, broadcasters have been staggered by the sky high fees that professional sports teams have demanded in exchange for the rights to broadcast their games Regional sports channels are no longer the growth business they were 15 years ago And some teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, own their own outlets — adding to a proliferation of sports channels, which causes consumers pay TV bills to rise Disney had hoped Foxs 22 regional sports networks would fetch about dollar 20 billion — but they fell short of that goal Sinclairs deal is for 21 of the 22 Fox sports networks

The crown jewel, YES, which is home to New York Yankees broadcasts, reportedly is being purchased by Sinclair and online retailing giant Amazoncom Inc for dollar 35 billion It was unclear Thursday whether Amazon also plans to invest in the larger cluster of regional sports channels as well — or if Sinclair has lined up another equity partner

Sinclair, one of the nations largest TV station owners with outlets in Bakersfield and Fresno, has been trying to expand into the nations largest television markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York The regional sports networks the company plans to acquire will enable it to reach sports fans in such markets as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Miami and Detroit Sinclair, which has its headquarters in the Baltimore suburb of Hunt Valley, Md, already owns the Tennis Channel, a cable outlet in Santa Monica The company spent part of last year trying to buy Tribune Media, including KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles, but that deal was blocked last summer by regulators

Instead, Nexstar Broadcasting Inc agreed to buy the Tribune stations for dollar 64 billion late last year

Source: Youtube