Sinclair reportedly close to buying ex-Fox sports networks from Disney

Disney is close to announcing a deal to sell 21 Fox regional sports networks it inherited from its acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets to Sinclair Broadcast Group for US$10 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The deal is expected to be announced today, according to the paper.

Disney completed its US$71 billion acquisition of the bulk of 21st Century Fox in March, paving the way to create what chairman and CEO Bog Iger described as “the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

The company promised to divest 21st Century Fox’s regional US sports channels as a condition for regulatory approval of the deal.

US local broadcast giant Sinclair recently announced it was launching a streaming service that will take a raft of thematic channels and content from its roster of local channels to other markets across the country, with a local channel featuring programming based on the user’s location, along with video-on-demand content from each of its channels.

The new service, STIRR, will be advertising-supported and free-to-view, and will be available on iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku and the web.

The price tag is less than some analysts expected, reflecting pressure on Disney to sell and concerns about the future of the pay TV market and the cost of local sports rights.

Disney has struck a separate agreement to sell Yes Network, the channel that carries New York Yankees games, to the team for around US$3.5 billion.

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