Sinclair Broadcast Group finalized its $9.6 billion purchase of 21 regional sports networks from the Walt Disney Company on Friday, completing a months-long transfer of the properties once owned by Fox.
Disney acquired the regional sports networks as part of its $71.3 billion purchase of film and television properties from 21st Century Fox. Antitrust regulators required Disney to divest itself from the sports networks due to its ownership of sports media giant ESPN. “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 Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Sinclair’s acquisition of the divested regional sports networks addresses the harm the Division identified in its review of the Disney-Fox transaction.”
In a deal first reached last May, Sinclair gains control of networks with exclusive rights to 42 professional sports teams, including 14 MLB franchises and 16 NBA franchises. As part of the transaction, Sinclair also acquires Fox College Sports and will place all of its regional networks into a new subsidiary called Diamond Sports Group, with Entertainment Studios’ Byron Allen on board as an equity and content partner.
“We are very excited about the transformational aspects the RSN acquisition will have on Sinclair and are eager to bring those opportunities to life,” Sinclair CEO and President Chris Ripley said in a statement. “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.”
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The transaction excluded the YES Network, which was widely seen as the crown jewel of Fox-owned regional sports networks. In a separate deal, Sinclair joined with a group that included Amazon, the New York Yankees and private equity firms to buy Fox’s interest in YES for $3.5 billion. The YES Network is home to the Yankees and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
The $9.6 billion purchase price included a $1.4 billion cash contribution from Sinclair, $1 billion in preferred equity issued by Diamond Sports, a $3.3 billion loan, 3.1 billion in secured notes and $1.8 billion in senior notes issued by Diamond.
Fox Corporation is the parent company of FOX Business.