Disney had been seeking a buyer for the Fox regional sports networks since acquiring them as part of a $71 billion purchase, which closed earlier this year, of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. Disney had agreed to sell off the RSNs within 90 days as a condition of U.S. Justice Department approval of the larger deal because regulators believed the company, which owns ESPN, would have too much control over sports television if it kept the regional channels.
Braves, Hawks and Atlanta United games are televised on Fox Sports South/Southeast. Existing broadcast rights contracts will remain in place after the networks change owners. The Braves’ rights deal runs until 2027 and often draws criticism from fans because it pays the team less than many other MLB clubs’ local TV contracts.
Before Sinclair emerged as the buyer, Braves owner Liberty Media was among the other companies that expressed interest in acquiring the 21 Fox RSNs, which collectively hold broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams and 16 NBA teams. Liberty is controlled by billionaire John Malone, a longtime cable-TV mogul.
"It would be logical that we would look at it. But we're going to look at it only on the basis that it's attractive for us for the long term and that we can see reasonable upside, given what our clear risks in the distribution of these (networks would be) in the changing (distribution) world," Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said Feb. 28.
Fox Sports South and Southeast reach nine million households across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.