It’s official. Sinclair Broadcasting is now in the regional sports network game.
The United States Justice Department approved the sale of the 21 regional Fox Sports Networks from the Walt Disney Company to Sinclair on Friday. Sinclair finalized the purchase in May, holding off competing bids from Liberty Media, Ice Cube’s Big 3 company, and Amazon, among others.
The media conglomerate formed a new holding group, Diamond Sports, to close the deal.
As part of the merger between 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company, Fox’s national sports operations spun off into a new Fox company, but its regional sports networks (formerly known as “Fox Sports Net”) went to Disney. Reports stated that Disney would integrate them into their new ESPN+ service, but if those plans were ever made, they were thrown out the window when the Justice Department ordered that Disney sell the networks to a third party within 90 days.
Along with Amazon, Sinclair separately completed the purchase of the YES Network, a New York-based RSN co-owned by the New York Yankees, in March. Sinclair is also launching an RSN in Chicago sometime in 2020 along with the Cubs, which will be known as Marquee.
Sinclair are also rumored buyers for the AT&T regional sports networks, which WarnerMedia have reportedly considered selling off to slash debt. If successful, this purchase would leave regional sports networks a near-duopoly, with only a few scattered independents such as Altitude, MSG, and MASN to challenge the Sinclair-NBC pairing.
It is not yet known what Sinclair’s new network will be called. Possibilities include Diamond Sports, after the holding company; Marquee Sports, to tie into the upcoming Chicago network; or something related to their already-existing network, Stadium, which can be found on digital sub-channels and some local cable systems.