Sinclair Buying 21 Regional Sports Networks from Disney

Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed to buy 21 regional sports networks and Fox College Sports from the Walt Disney Co. for $9.6 billion.

As part of the deal, entertainment entrepreneur Byron Allen has agreed to become an equity and content partner in a newly formed subsidiary of Sinclair that will be the parent of Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair unit that will acquire the RSNs.

Allen bought the Weather Channel in 2018 and founded Entertainment Studios.

Disney acquired the RSNs when it bought 21st Century Fox. It agreed to sell the RSNs in order to secure regulatory approval for the Fox deal.

Sinclair’s purchase does not include the YES Network in New York. After adjusting for minority equity interests, Disney said the deal valued the RSNs, which generated $3.8 billion in revenue, at $10.6 billion.

“This is a very exciting transaction for Sinclair to be able to acquire highly complementary assets,” said Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair. “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.”

Sinclair already owns Marquee Sports Network, a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs, Tennis Channel, Stadium and Ring of Honor Wrestling. It agreed to buy Tribune Broadcasting, but that deal fell apart last year.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Sinclair for the sale of these 21 RSNs, subject to the conditions of the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Christine McCarthy, senior executive VP and chief financial officer, The Walt Disney Company.

The RSNs to be acquired by Sinclair are: Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports West, and Prime Ticket. Also included in the acquisition is Fox College Sports.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.