Disney Could Sell Fox Regional Sports Networks Back to Murdoch

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Rupert Murdoch

The scenario has always made sense, since new Fox is supposed to be a company focused on sports and news.

The new Fox wants the 22 regional sports networks that 21st Century Fox is selling to Walt Disney, and it may outbid competitors who also seek to purchase them, CNBC reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources. 

The scenario has always made sense, since Fox — the company that will consist of the assets not being sold to Disney for $71 billion — is supposed to be a company focused on sports and news.

Disney's deal to acquire the film and TV studio, an additional stake in Hulu, a stake in Sky, Star India and some cable channels (though not Fox News or Fox Business) includes the RSNs, though regulators said Disney must sell them due to its ownership of ESPN.

Some figure the RSNs could fetch $20 billion, though to reach that lofty goal Disney may have to sell them off piecemeal and it may prefer to divest of them as a group, and to do so quickly as to not hold up regulatory approval for the larger transaction.

Because of those concerns, a Fox bid for the whole collection might appeal to Disney rather than having to deal with private equity groups and others that may bid for a few channels here and there, CNBC reported, citing people close to the matter.

Disney and 21st Century Fox did not respond to a request for comment.

Rupert Murdoch has named the remaining assets "Fox," and besides Fox News and Fox Business, it will consist of the broadcast network and a bunch of cable sports networks, including FS1 and FS2, so the RSNs make a a very sensible addition. Collectively, they broadcast games from 44 teams from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association.

Murdoch and Fox will certainly have enough money to buy the RSNs, given that it is selling most of the company to Disney for $19 billion more than it had originally agreed to accept after Comcast swooped in with an offer and caused a bidding war.

Disney only recently sent out its bid book to prospective buyers so formal offers for the RSNs have not yet come in, according to Sports Business Daily