Beyond protests, tax reform, or player injuries, our biggest concern this football season has been big media mergers that stand to harm our ability to watch the games we love. We were concerned with the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger. We're even more concerned with the havoc Sinclair/Tribune will wreak on sports fans. But now, an even bigger behemoth is taking the field, the Mouse of Media, Disney.
Disney already owns ESPN, the largest sports cable company available. However, that looks like the minor leagues when compared to the 22 new regional sports networks they will acquire from 21st Century Fox.
In a statement from Public Knowledge, Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge and SFC Board member said:
“Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s regional sports networks, which carry thousands of local NBA, MLB, and NHL games, as well as college athletics, is also a cause for concern. Disney’s ESPN-family of networks is already the most valuable, and most expensive, sports programming network in the cable bundle. The addition of Fox’s regional sports programming may significantly increase Disney’s bargaining power over local cable providers because consumers demand access to their local professional and college athletics. The combination of these assets may also give Disney the power to negotiate even higher prices and more preferential treatment for the rest of its video programming, as well as unprecedented control over both national and local televised sports."
The antitrust implications of this merger are clear, and SFC will be keeping a very close eye on it.