Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the nation’s largest media companies, has reached an agreement to purchase twenty-one regional sports networks from Walt Disney Co. The deal is worth a reported $10.6 billion.
The purchase extends the Maryland-based Sinclair’s push into major media markets. Disney came into possession of the sports networks when it took over 21st Century Fox in March for $71.3 billion. The U.S. Justice Department required Disney to divest the regional sports networks before approving the merger.
The acquisition by Disney, which already owns sports behemoth ESPN, raised anti-trust concerns in the sports-channel market.
“This is a very exciting transaction for Sinclair to be able to acquire highly complementary assets,” said Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair, in a statement. “While consumer viewing habits have shifted, the tradition of watching live sports and news remains ingrained in our culture.”
“As one of the largest local news producers in the country and an experienced producer of sports content, we are ideally positioned to transfer our skills to deliver and expand our focus on greater premium sports programming,” he added.
With the networks, Sinclair now owns television rights to 42 professional teams including 14 Major League Baseball teams, 16 National Basketball Association teams and 12 National Hockey League teams.
The networks are among the nation’s largest and most lucrative regional channels. Last year the group combined to deliver $3.8 billion in revenue and reached an estimated 74 million homes.
Photo by Keith Allison via Flickr