Amazon Among Bidders for Fox Regional Sports Networks

TV cameramen and a YES network logo banner at Yankee Stadium

Amazon may be looking to buy the 22 regional sports networks that Disney is picking up from 21st Century Fox. Together, these networks have programming rights for 44 Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League teams.

Amazon is bidding for all the networks, including the YES Network; Blackstone, an unknown sovereign wealth fund, along with the Yankees, are also bidding for the NY network.

According to CNBC, Amazon is joined by Sinclair Broadcast Group, TEGNA, Apollo Global Management, KKR & Co. and The Blackstone Group in the first round of bidding for the slate of sports networks.

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Fox was rumored to be interested in buying back the networks, but neither it nor NBC Sports, which already owns a significant number of regional sports networks, placed bids in the first round.

Fox itself could submit an offer to buy the RSNs back in the second round of bidding, which is expected to take place before the end of 2018, CNBC wrote. Opinions have differed as to digital companies' appetites for such traditional businesses, but with Amazon ramping up its advertising efforts, the networks offer platforms that would be hard to replicate from scratch.

For Amazon, purchasing the RSNs and the sports rights that come with them would make sense against the backdrop of the company's efforts to secure live sports rights for its platform.

Fox's 22 RSNs have been valued in the $20 billion-$22 billion range. In Britain, Amazon signed a three-year deal for Premier League soccer. (The YES Network, which airs Yankee games, is among the stations on the auction block, and may still be sold separately.) The U.S. Department of Justice has forced Disney to auction off the channels as a condition of acquiring Fox's entertainment assets.

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