Friday, April 19, 2019

MLB Drops Bid To Buy Fox RSNs

Major League Baseball won’t get a shot at controlling the nation’s regional sports TV networks, reports The NY Post.

MLB has resigned itself to becoming a minority investor — as Disney wraps up its auction of the 21 so-called RSNs — giving up on a dream to become the operator of a nationwide chain of sports-focused TV channels, sources told The Post.

“MLB preferred majority but have come to the conclusion that it is not going to be possible and they want to be part of a consortium,” according to a source close to the talks.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred surprised media executives in November when he jumped into the auction. At the time, sources close to MLB said the league was angling to centralize the media rights of MLB’s various teams, boosting its ability to resell games to a fast-growing array of online streaming services.

The problem: MLB is owned by the 30 teams it encompasses — and those teams want to charge the RSNs as much as they can for the rights to broadcast their games.

“MLB wants to make sure rights fees go up,” according to a source close to the process.

That wouldn’t sit well with Charter Communications, the cable giant whose biggest shareholder is billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Media, which is a leading bidder in the auction. Ditto for Sinclair Broadcast Group, which some insiders believe is poised to scoop up the RSNs for around $10 billion in the coming days.

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