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By Dylan Byers
Amazon has bid on 22 regional sports networks, or RSNs, including the New York Yankees’ YES Network, according to sources familiar with the sale process who were not authorized to speak publicly.
CNBC first reported on Amazon’s bid.
RSNs are regional cable channels that usually carry live games from local professional, college and even high school teams, as well as commentary shows related to those teams. In December, investment bank Guggenheim Securities valued Fox’s package of RSNs at $22.4 billion.
Disney is selling the RSNs after buying them from 21st Century Fox as part of its broader $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets. Federal regulators told Disney it would approval the deal only if it sold the RSNs.
If Amazon wins any or all of the RSNs, the acquisition would signal the biggest move yet by a tech company into the world of sports media. Tech companies have in recent years experimented with streaming some games, but have yet to acquire any of the exclusive, big-budget deals that usually go to major TV companies.
Owning RSNs would give Amazon insight into the economics of local sports rights as well as an avenue to experiment with smaller, non-national matches.
Amazon currently streams the NFL’s Thursday night games, which still air on TV on the NFL Network and Fox’s broadcast network.
Among the RSNs for sale are Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida and a handful of other regional cable channels that have the rights to local professional sports teams.
Amazon has emerged as one of the biggest players in internet-delivered streaming media with its Prime Video package, which is part of its broader Amazon Prime subscription service. Amazon Prime Video offers a mix of original series and licensed movies and TV shows.
The addition of RSNs, however, would mark a new addition if included with Prime Video, giving the company a way to differentiate from competitors such as Netflix and Hulu.