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OFFICIAL: Sinclair is Now The Owner of 21 Fox Sports RSNs in $10.6B Deal

Jason Gurwin

Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sinclair was on the verge of announcing their acquisition for 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). Today, the company has made the deal official announcing that the have bought the RSNs, as well as Fox College Sports for $10.6 billion.

The RSNs includes 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. Last year, the portfolio combined for $3.8 billion in revenue across 74 million subscribers.

Sinclair which owns nearly 200 local channels, has created a new subsidiary for the channels called Diamond Sports Group, which will see The Weather Channel owner — Byron Allen, became an equity and content partner. Existing sports business like Tennis Channel, Stadium, and recently announced joint venture with the Chicago Cubs, Marquee Sports Network, will all be part of the new subsidiary.

In a statement, Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair:

“This is a very exciting transaction for Sinclair to be able to acquire highly complementary assets. 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.”
The RSNs to be acquired by Sinclair:

The auction process, which was kicked off as a result of Disney’s requirement to divest the networks, was originally expected to fetch $20B for the channels. After acquiring and closing their deal 21st Century Fox on March 19th, Disney had just 90 days to divest of the Fox-owned Regional Sports Networks (RSN).

Last month, Disney sold Fox-owned YES Network back to the New York Yankees in a joint bid with Sinclair and Amazon valuing the network at $4 billion. Sinclair also partner with the Chicago Cubs on a new RSN called Marquee, which will be launching next season.

While many believe Regional Sports Networks are a declining asset, Sinclair will hope to pair them with their nearly 200 locally owned affiliates, as well as [The Tennis Channel], Stadium. It is unclear how this will affect carriage deals with the various Live TV Streaming Services. While many of those agreements span multiple years, they will have to be renegotiated at some point. Last May, Sinclair locals were pulled from PlayStation Vue — which didn’t see them return until September.

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