Amazon is not limiting itself to acquiring sports media rights. The digital streaming giant now has reportedly joined the bidding for the 22 regional sports networks currently owned by 21st Century Fox that regulators are requiring Disney to sell off as part of its pending Fox acquisition.
According to CNBC, Amazon, which already has a foothold in sports via NFL Thursday Night Football rights as well as soccer and tennis, is among a cluster of media companies and private equity firms in the running to get the properties. Citing unidentified sources, CNBC said first-round bidders for the full portfolio include P.E. firms Apollo Global Management, KKR and Blackstone Group as well as local a TV station groups Sinclair and Tegna.
The value of the RSN portfolio has been estimated at $20 billion, but no dollar figures have been reported in connection with the bids. CNBC said Fox has not submitted a bid in the first round, but could enter the second-round bidding, which will get under way after Thanks-giving and proceed until the end of the year. At an appearance this month at the New York Times Dealbook conference, Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch has said the company “will be inquisitive” as to the RSNs.
Disney’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice affords the media giant minimal time to divest of the assets, which it is barred from keeping due to its vast ESPN sports holdings. Given the larger priority to close the $71.3 billion Fox transaction, Disney may seek to move the portfolio in one piece.
Disney and Amazon have not released any official statement on the report.