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Disney Could Sell off Fox RSNs Piecemeal

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John Ourand of Sports Business Journal was on the company’s The Morning Buzz Podcast earlier this week talking about the sports implications of Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. As previously reported, the DOJ has agreed to approve the deal providing Disney sells off Fox’s regional sports networks.

Speculation has mostly focused on who would buy all 22 networks, but Ourand says that Disney may have more options and make more money of they sold them off one-by-one or in multiple smaller packages.

“Comcast wants the ones in its markets, AT&T wants the ones in its markets. Some distributors, like Charter, already have said that they’re interested in doing it. Venture capital could be out there looking at it, and then you have these deep-pocketed companies like Endeavor and CAA that have been looking to get into the media, that have been consistently building out their media groups. So I think there’s going to be a long line of people that are kicking the tires on these RSNs.”

Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing suggests that it may not be limited to network and cable operators that have interest in the FOX RSNs.

Tech companies could perhaps get involved as well. YouTube has already done that with their efforts in the LA market, including grabbing LAFC local rights, and they and other tech firms could be players here.

As previously reported, it’s likely Disney will be looking for buyers for only 21 of the 22 networks. The New York Yankees intend to buy back controlling interest in the YES Network from Fox before the sale to Disney is complete.

Ourand went on to say that he worries the interest Disney is hoping exists for these RSNs isn’t actually there. Ourand says RSNs are no longer the reliable profit generators they used to be for cable companies. He cites cord cutting and rising rights fees.

You’re seeing this happen in Chicago right now. Comcast is losing subscribers in Chicago, but they’re having to renew rights fees in negotiations with all four teams, and all four teams want a lot more money, because they’re seeing teams across the country get a lot more money, and Comcast doesn’t even really have that money, because they’re losing subscribers. The whole business is changing.

It’s important to note a couple of things here. First, the sale of these assets to Disney is not even completed yet. Comcast still has time to up its own bid and come out on top. It is likely that the DOJ would still demand that Comcast sell off the RSNs. Disney may be interested in selling off all the RSNs but the ones in the LA market.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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