Comcast ESPN

Even as 21st Century Fox shareholders prepare to look at Disney’s latest bid, Comcast is getting ready to increase its offer. And in the process, Comcast is already looking for potential bidders to buy Fox Sports Net’s regional networks. That would ease any federal pressure and scrutiny over antitrust matters.

Reuters is reporting that Comcast is doing it now so that Fox shareholders won’t have antitrust concerns, plus increase their chances for uprooting Disney’s bid. Disney has a $71 billion cash-and-stock offer to take over 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. Comcast offered $65 billion and is getting ready for yet another bid for Fox.

Disney is reportedly thinking of selling off Fox’s RSN’s to various companies like AT&T, Charter and other companies. And should Comcast be successful in its bid to overtake Disney and buy Fox, Disney could in turn buy those RSN’s and fold them into the ESPN brand.

Last month, the Justice Department gave Disney the green light to purchase Fox provided it sold off the regional networks. Reuters said a sale of those regional sports networks could garner as much as $20 billion.

Reuters said Comcast is talking to private equity firms to find out the interest in the RSN’s. An established media company or a telecommunications conglomerate could be the one to purchase these sports networks:

Comcast believes finding such partners will not only allow it to argue that it can win antitrust approval for the Fox assets as easily as Disney, but will also boost its finances as its prepares to make a second all-cash offer later this month, the sources said. 

A vote to approve Disney’s bid is scheduled for July 27, but Comcast is expected to come forward with a counterbid before then. Comcast is said to be ready to negotiate with the feds on the number of Fox RSN’s it would have to divest as some of them may overlap with Comcast’s NBC Sports regional networks.

The saga of “As 21st Century Fox Turns” continues and there isn’t any end in sight for now.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.