Amazon may be looking to buy the 22 regional sports networks that Disney is picking up from 21st Century Fox.
Citing unnamed sources, CNBC’s David Faber reports that Amazon has joined the first round of bidding alongside Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tegna, the New York Yankees, and several equity firms. (The YES Network, which airs Yankee games, is among the stations on the auction block, and may still be sold separately.) The U.S. Department of Justice has forced Disney to auction off the channels as a condition of acquiring Fox’s entertainment assets.
I reached out to Amazon for comment and will update if I hear back.
Although it’s early in the process, Amazon’s alleged interest is noteworthy as the company tries to build à la carte TV through Amazon Channels. That service allows Prime members to add premium channels such as HBO and Starz through a single app and billing system, and Amazon says it’s seen “millions” of these add-on subscriptions so far. Bringing in live sports could give Amazon a big advantage over rivals like Roku and Apple, which are reportedly working on similar à la carte plans. It could also accelerate the collapse of traditional pay-TV bundles, which are becoming more dependent on sports to keep subscribers around.
That said, CNBC wasn’t able to learn what Amazon and others bid. “New Fox,” the company left over after Disney takes control of the entertainment assets, is an apparent favorite to reacquire the channels and could still enter the running in the next bidding round.