As we know now, the first round of bidding for the 22 Fox regional sports networks that Disney is being forced to divest after acquiring Fox’s assets went pretty poorly. The New York Post reported that Disney didn’t get any offers at the overall value it was looking for, and instead of media and tech giants fighting for the FSNs, a number of private equity firms ended up being their best bet for selling the networks wholesale.
Major League Baseball’s big talk about looking to potentially buy some or all of the FSNs turned out to be just that.
LL Cool J and Ice Cube came through on their attempt to buy the RSNs but apparently weren’t taken very seriously.
Media companies such as Sinclair Broadcasting and Nexstar Media Group did get involved in the bidding but neither were considered serious. Sinclair was notably called out for what was considered “a lowball bid.”
In the end, it sounded like Disney was going to have to shift focus and sell the RSNs piecemeal. That’s where most of the real interest seemed to be coming from bidders who could realistically provide value in return. Per the Post, one of the companies that apparently showed interest and submitted some bids was Charter Communications. With the second-largest cable operator in the United States interested and reportedly showing interest in networks to complement the ones they already have, it sounded like Disney might have the solution they were looking for.
However, it turns out those reports may have been a bit too rosy. John Ourand at Sports Business Journal now reports that Charter not only didn’t submit any bids, but they also didn’t even sign the non-disclosure agreement prospective bidders were required to sign to see the official bid book.
Ourand added that “it is possible, but not likely” that Charter will enter the bidding process at some point soon. Rumors stated that they were most interested in FS South, which has broadcast rights to the Braves, Hawks, Atlanta United and WNBA Dream, as well as FS West and Prime Ticket, which exist in the same market as two RSNS that Charter already owns (Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum SportsNet LA).
The disappointing of the first round of bidding was muted by the assumption that companies like Charter were ready to swoop in and grab multiple RSNs on the second round. But with this news that Charter, long considered one of the ideal buyers, is only vaguely interested, only adds to the concern that Disney must be feeling about the perceived value of these RSNs and what it’s going to be able to get for them.