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Report: Amazon Makes A Play For Disney's Regional Sports Networks

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Report: Amazon Makes A Play For Disney's Regional Sports Networks
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Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is making a bid to expand its live sports coverage through an acquisition of Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS)'s 22 regional sports networks.

What Happened

Disney is fielding offers to sell 22 regional sports networks it acquired as part of its recent transaction with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ: FOXA), according to CNBC. Amazon is among a small handful of interested buyers and is competing with bidders such as Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO), KKR & Co Inc (NYSE: KKR), Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX), Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc (NASDAQ: SBGI) and Tegna, traded as GANNETT CO INC. (NYSE: TGNA), CNBC said, quoting sources familiar with the situation. 

Why It's Important

Amazon has already paid $50 million for the rights to broadcast live football on Thursday nights and is looking to build out its live sports portfolio, Axios said. This could be seen as a strategy to differentiate itself from Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) which has shown minimal to zero interest in live sports.

Among the nearly two dozen regional sport networks owned by Disney is YES, which broadcasts Yankees games along with 44 teams across baseball, basketball and hockey leagues, CNBC said. The YES network could wind up being sold in a separate transaction from the other networks, according to the report. 

According to Variety, regional sports networks are a "hugely profitable" business and are considered must-have channels for local sports fans. 

What's Next

Regardless of who buys the properties from Disney, the media empire is obligated to divest its sports network within 90 days of the closing of the Fox deal, Axios said. The company's sports network properties are worth around $20 billion, according to the story. 

Related Links:

It's Early, But Here's How NFL Games Are Doing On Amazon Prime Vs. Twitter

The Disney-Fox Deal: With Great Power Comes Great Regulatory Risk

Posted-In: Axios CNBC VarietyNews Sports M&A Media General Best of Benzinga

 

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