Murdoch: Facebook a big threat to traditional sports broadcasters

By Business Leaders FOXBusiness

Fox, News Corp. would merge ideally, but years away: Rupert Murdoch

21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch on the Disney deal to acquire 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets and the future of news and sports programming.

21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch is keeping close tabs on social networking giant Facebook (FB) especially when it comes to sports.  

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“The one that’s coming at sport is Facebook, they unsuccessfully bid just for the digital rights of half of the Indian cricket for $600 million, so that was a warning shot you know” warned Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on FOX Business’ “Mornings With Maria.” “They’ve announced they’ll spend billions on sports rights, so we don’t know which country they’ll go after or what they’ll do”, he added.

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Social media companies are getting more aggressive in chasing the lucrative world of broadcast rights for sports. Twitter (TWTR) won a deal for the NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ streaming rights for the 2016 season, replaced by Amazon (AMZN) this season.  But Facebook may get even more aggressive. This past September, the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg, inked a multi-year deal with the NFL to distribute game highlights.  Facebook has deals with digital sports platform Stadium to live stream nine college football games from Conference USA and six games from the Mountain West Conference, plus it will live stream 47 college basketball games from November through March. Giving the company exposure leading into March Madness, the highly popular NCAA  tournament that captivates viewers and spawns office pools even among non-basketball fans.

Murdoch’s comments came as the media mogul finalized 21st Century’s (FOXA) sale of select entertainment assets to Disney (DIS) in a deal valued at $52.4 billion. The remaining assets not sold, news and sports, will create a new company called ‘Fox’ which Murdoch said which will focus on core assets; Fox News, FOX Business and Fox Sports, properties the media mogul sees as the future.  “The new Fox will have Fox News, FOX Business, Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports, but the point is it will have a cash flow of at least $2 billion a year,” he explained, adding he can use that money to build another business. “We can see expanding that and taking other opportunities and building another great company” said Murdoch.

The premise for the deal, in part, is to fend off the FANG companies. “Silicon valley is spending tens and tens of billions on entertainment programing. So it makes sense,” said Murdoch when referring to the sale of assets to Disney.

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