Fox Sports Indiana soon could have a new owner under a $10.6 billion deal involving 21 regional sports networks.
Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to acquire the networks from Walt Disney Co., according to an announcement Friday from the two firms. In addition to Fox Sports Indiana, the deal includes local cable channels in markets such as St. Louis, New Orleans and Detroit. The networks have the rights to the games of 42 teams—14 Major League Baseball teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.
Fox Sports Indiana broadcasts Indiana Pacers games.
The acquisitions add to a growing sports portfolio for Baltimore-based Sinclair, which earlier this year announced a partnership with the Chicago Cubs to form a new regional sports network, Marquee Sports Network. Sinclair is also a part-owner of Stadium, a sports network that is available both on broadcast TV and digitally. Sinclair also owns the Tennis Channel and is part of a new ownership group of the YES Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees games.
(Other partners in that deal include the Yankees and Amazon. Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Disney was forced to sell the regional channels by the Justice Department because of antitrust laws as part of its purchase of Fox's entertainment assets for $71.3 billion, a deal that became official earlier this year. Other bidders for the networks included Major League Baseball and Liberty Media, as well as a group led by Ice Cube.
The financial future of regional sports networks is murkier than it once was, as cord cutters have turned away from the cable bundle, though Sinclair's media portfolio continues to expand. The company owns around 200 broadcast TV stations around the country. Sinclair has been criticized for its conservative-leaning programming on news broadcasts on its local stations.
The regional sports networks included in the deal are Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports West, and Prime Ticket. Sinclair will also acquire Fox College Sports.