MLB 'interested' in Fox regional sports networks, commissioner Manfred confirms

By SportsFOXBusiness

Digital streaming presents 'real opportunity' for MLB, commissioner says

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on streaming, the impact of technology on baseball fans’ experience, the league’s sports betting partnership with MGM Resorts International, efforts to attract millennials to games, ticket prices and the major off-season trades.

Game on! After some speculation, Major League Baseball confirms it is eyeing Fox regional sports networks (RSNs).

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“We are interested in the regionals,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred during an exclusive interview with the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. “In 12 markets, baseball on the regional sports network is the number one programming throughout the summer. In 24 of 25 markets that we operate in, we are the No. 1 programming on cable, so these regional sports networks are really valuable, valuable assets.”

As part of Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, it got 22 RSNs plus a majority stake in Yankees Entertainment Network, also known as the YES Network, which is considered a marquee property broadcasting the New York Yankees.

But in order for the MLB to even consider it, they must enter the bidding process, which is mandated under the Department of Justice antitrust rules.

Although it’s unclear what MLB will ultimately do, Manfred said the mix of traditional media and streaming rights is fueling intent.

“We think that the combination of that traditional mode of delivery and the digital rights that we control is an opportunity for the game,” he said.

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In late November, FOX Business’ reported that Disney and its investment bankers were preparing for the second round of their auction of nearly two dozen of Fox’s regional sports networks and that there had been some confusion over the digital rights which promoted Manfred to clarify at the time.

Additionally, Amazon has also emerged as another potential suitor, but Manfred remained silent on whether the tech giant is a serious contender.

“Amazon has been around the process, you know,” he said. “Exactly who’s going to be in, who’s going to be out remains to be seen.”

21st Century Fox is the parent of FOX Business and Fox News.

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