Walt Disney needs to sell Fox’s regional sports networks as part of its $71.3 billion deal for the company, and some big digital players could be in the mix for the channels.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon and YouTube are among the companies interested in buying the 22 RSNs. Other interested parties include Sinclair and buyout firms Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners and Apollo.
As the report points out though, Amazon and YouTube would need to find a way around digital rights for the sports carried on the regional networks. Many of the leagues including the NBA and MLB reserve national digital rights for themselves while limiting streaming in specific markets.
In June, Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar said Disney’s agreement to sell off the RSNs could generate around $19 billion to $20 billion in value (assuming a 10x EBITDA multiple off approximately $2 billion EBITDA), which should add another around 0.5x to Disney's leverage capacity (including Sky).
If Amazon were to buy the RSNs, it would make sense in the context of the company’s recent push toward live sports. Earlier this year, Amazon renewed a two-year streaming deal with the NFL for Thursday Night Football. And the company also signed a deal with the Premier League for international soccer rights.
Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand said in June that he expects the Yankees to take back majority ownership of the YES Network, particularly since the team had a clause allowing it to do so when it agreed to sell its majority interest back in 2014.
Ourand also speculated that Disney could sell off the RSNs piecemeal, and that Comcast wants the networks in its markets and AT&T wants the ones in its markets. He said that distributors like Charter could also be interested in buying the RSNs.