By now, the acquisition and merger by Disney of media assets from the former 21st Century Fox is old news. But even though said assets led by the 20th Century Fox film studios are now under the Disney umbrella, the whole process hasn’t finished yet due to some loose ends.
By that we mean Disney is still on a timetable to divest itself of several regional sports networks from Fox. That’s to pass antitrust regulations. Just over a month after the acquisition was finalized, Disney has somebody to buy those sports networks. It’s the largest broadcast owner in the US.
The Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group has inked a deal with Disney to take on the 21 sports networks from Fox. Their negotiations, made public this Friday, May 3, had the deal price pegged at about $10.6 billion. While the Department of Justice must yet approve, it should solve the potential antitrust problems Disney would have had if it retained the regional sports channels alongside ESPN.
Adjusted for minority equity interests, Sinclair only has to pay Disney $9.6 billion. The acquired sports networks will be packed under a new Sinclair subsidiary, Diamond Sports Group. Disney already sold another sports-regional, YES Network, this March to the NY Yankees whose games it broadcasts. That amounted to $3.5 billion.
With that proviso soon to be done, Disney can now return to integrating the former Fox media companies to its organization, and streamlining Fox productions to synergize with its own.