Sinclair Closes Acquisition of Regional Sports Networks

Sinclair Broadcast Group said it completed its acquisition of 21 Fox regional sports networks from the Walt Disney Co.

The price was $9.6 billion, which values the businesses at $10.6 billion.

Disney acquired the networks when it bought 21st Century Fox, but had to divest the regional sports networks in order to pass regulatory muster. The YES Network in New York is not included.

The Justice Department Friday gave its thumbs up to the deal, paving the way for the deal closure.

"Based upon its investigation, the Department did not find that the Divestiture Transaction would lead to competitive harm, and found that Sinclair has the incentive to use the RSNs to compete in all affected markets and that Sinclair has sufficient business experience and financial capabilities to compete effectively in the affected markets over the long term," Justice said.

“In exercising its discretion, the Antitrust Division has a duty to ensure that competition will be preserved for the American consumer, here the sports fan,” said Antitrust Division Chief General Makan Delrahim. “Sinclair’s acquisition of the divested regional sports networks addresses the harm the Division identified in its review of the Disney-Fox transaction.”

“We are very excited about the transformational aspects the RSN acquisition will have on Sinclair and are eager to bring those opportunities to life. We welcome Jeff Krolik, president of the RSNs, and the rest of the RSN management team and staff to the Sinclair family. We have an exciting future ahead of us,” said Chris Ripley, CEO of Sinclair.

Ripley told the Wall Street Journal that Sinclair would now be interested in looking at the regional sports networks owned by AT&T. Those networks are in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Colorado and the Southwest.

Sinclair now become a big player in the regional sports business. It also is starting the Marquee Network with the Chicago Cubs and it owns the Tennis Channel. As part of the Disney deal, it also acquired Fox College Sports.

The RSNs were acquired via a newly formed, indirect subsidiary of Sinclair, Diamond Sports Group, LLC.

Byron Allen has agreed to become an equity and content partner in a newly formed indirect subsidiary of Sinclair and an indirect parent of Diamond (“RSN Holding Company”). Allen, who bought The Weather Channel in 2018, is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Entertainment Studios.

The RSN brands 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.