Sinclair poised to secure 21 Fox RSNs in $10bn deal

Sinclair Broadcasting Group is on the brink of acquiring 21 Fox regional sports networks from Disney in a deal worth more than $10bn (€8.94bn).

The deal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could be announced as early as today (Friday) after a lengthy auction process.

The move would immediately make Sinclair a major player in the sports broadcasting industry in the United States. The company has partnered with the Chicago Cubs to create a new RSN – Marquee Sports Network – that will air all local Cubs games beginning in 2020.

Sinclair is a partner in the New York Yankees’ plans to acquire the YES network, alongside Blackstone and Amazon, in a $3.45bn deal, which is yet to be finalised. The Maryland-based company, which is the largest owner of local TV stations in the US, also owns Stadium and the Tennis Channel.

Other prospective bidders for the RSNs were Major League BaseballLiberty Media and an investment group led by hip-hop star Ice Cube.

Disney has been forced by the US Department of Justice to sell the RSNs it inherited as part of its $71.3bn purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets.

It had hoped to secure around $20bn for the RSNs but fell far short of that goal, in part because the YES network – the crown jewel of the RSNs – was not part of the process. The YES network was purchased by a New York Yankees-fronted consortium.