Fox Sports Florida Is For Sale So Who Will Buy The Networks?

 

Spectrum and Comcast are likely to join a number of possible bidders for Fox Sports Florida and Fox Sun Sports. For those who have not been following the big news in the broadcasting world, Disney wants to buy 21st Century Fox in a deal worth an estimated  $71.3 billion.

However, part of the deal requires Fox’s 22 regional sports networks; which Disney has agreed to sell off to gain Department of Justice approval for the deal. That means the two Florida based networks that air the Rays, Marlins, Lightening, Panthers, Heat, and Magic plus hours of other college, as well as high school sports, are on the block.

John Malone, the cable pioneer who has a significant stake in Charter/Spectrum, specifically said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this month that they have a strong interest in buying regional sports networks.

They could come in strong and buy out Fox for both networks in a major deal.

At present Spectrum has networks in Los Angeles with the Dodgers and the Lakers. But they also own smaller outlets in Kansas City, Ohio, Hawaii with partnerships in with Comcast in New York with the Mets.

But another major bidder for the two Fox networks in Florida would likely be Comcast. They presently own NBC Sports Network regionals in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

A scenario that might make the most sense is for Spectrum who is strongest along the I-4 corridor to grab what is Fox Sun Sports giving them the Rays, Lightening, Magic and all the central Florida sports. That would leave Comcast to take Fox Sports Florida giving them NBC Sports Miami (they own the NBC TV station in Miami) so, taking on the Marlins, Panthers, and Heat makes the most sense.

There are other potential bidders, AT&T, along with new player’s media agencies Endeavor (WME-IMG) and CAA are all interested in the 22 regional networks. But in Florida they are less likely to be a player in Florida.

One of the crown jewels of those network is likely to be off the market. The New York Yankees Yes Network has the right to buy back controlling interest in the network from Fox and they have indicated they are likely to exercise that option.

Finally, an outside the box view might come from of all places Washington, D.C. based Discovery Channel. The folks known best for “Shark Week,” also own Eurosport a major player in the sports broadcast business in Europe.

So, if they wanted to make a splash in the United States they could be a player in the bid for the Fox Regionals. I think they are a VERY long shot, but didn’t want to rule them out.

 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.