Kirkland Crawford Detroit Free Press
Published 5:11 PM EDT May 3, 2019
Fox Sports Detroit has new ownership. Again.
Sinclair Broadcast Group has purchased the 21 regional sports networks and Fox College Sports that Disney acquired from its purchase of most of Fox.
Sinclair, which owns the largest number of local TV stations in the country, will get the RSNs for $10.6 billion. The Wall Street Journal was first to report the deal was done.
According to a news release published by Sinclair, the RSNs will be run under a newly-formed subsidiary, Diamond Sports Group, run by Byron Allen, the owner of Entertainment Studios who bought The Weather Channel last year.
What that means for the immediate future of the home of the Detroit Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons telecasts is unclear. They are just three of the 42 NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball franchises for which the RSNs own television rights.
Broadcast rights contracts remain in place until at least 2021, according to a source. Previous reports have said the Pistons are paid $25 million annually for broadcasts; the Tigers receive $50 million.
In order to complete Disney’s $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment division, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled it had to sell the RSNs. The Free Press reported in March that Platinum Equity, owned by Pistons boss Tom Gores, was a part of a group interested in purchasing the channels.
Sinclair owns nearly 200 television stations in the United States, including several throughout Michigan, and seems to be fully engaged in live sports TV. The company, along with the New York Yankees and Amazon, recently purchased the YES Network, which most famously shows Yankees games, for $3.5 billion. And Sinclair is pairing up with the Chicago Cubs to form a new network that will show Cubs games beginning in 2020.
This release said this new transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both Sinclair and Disney and awaits approval by the Department of Justice.
Contact Kirkland Crawford: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere. Free Press sports writer Vince Ellis contributed.
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