AT&T Makes Another Play for Sports With Time Warner Bid

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AT&T’s (NYSE:T) potential acquisition of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) would give the telecom giant a wide array of coveted sports TV rights.

When it completed a $49 billion takeover of DirecTV last year, AT&T also became the owner of NFL Sunday Ticket, a football package exclusive to the satellite TV provider. Now, AT&T is rumored to be in advanced talks to buy Time Warner, a media heavyweight that controls broadcast rights to top leagues like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Time Warner, through its Turner Sports division, is in the middle of an eight-year deal that gives TBS a large portion of MLB’s postseason games through 2021. TBS airs select MLB games nationally on Sundays.

Turner also has a broad partnership with the NBA. The company’s TV deal was renewed two years ago, keeping NBA games on TNT through the 2024-25 season, and Turner runs the league’s network, NBA TV. Turner networks also share the rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with CBS (NYSE:CBS). AT&T happens to be a major sponsor of March Madness.

The PGA Championship is another sporting event on TNT.

On the digital side, Turner Sports owns Bleacher Report and operates the official websites of the NBA, NCAA and PGA.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that AT&T was in advanced talks to buy Time Warner, which has a market value of $73 billion. AT&T is pushing to finalize an agreement as early as Monday, according to multiple reports. However, other bidders could jump into the mix. Bloomberg first reported talks were underway on Thursday.

Time Warner’s portfolio includes HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. film studio. In addition to TV dramas and other shows, HBO is known for pay-per-view boxing matches.