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News Corp. is "closing in on a deal to buy a minority stake" in the YES Network, according to sources cited by Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. One source said that a deal "may be announced in the coming days" that values the Yankees' RSN at roughly $3B. News Corp. is "said [to] have its sights on nearly 40% of the network, seeking to buy most, if not all, of the stakes owned by longtime investors Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Providence Equity Partners" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/15).
PILING ON: In L.A., Flint & James cite sources as saying that talks between News Corp. and the Yankees "have been going on for several weeks." News Corp. getting a stake in YES would "give it a big presence in the nation's No. 1 media market, where it currently has no sports outlets." The media conglomerate "already owns 20 regional sports networks, including two" in L.A. The company also is in the process of "starting a national cable sports network" to challenge ESPN. In addition, News Corp. owns "about 13%" of the Rockies (L.A. TIMES, 11/15). In N.Y., Chozick & Cieply wrote YES Network would "add significant heft" to News Corp.'s "already large portfolio of regional sports assets and fits into the company's strategy of building its sports television business" (NYTIMES.com, 11/14).
In the past 24 hours, ESPN officially announced deals to carry the Sugar and Orange Bowls through '26. This morning, ESPN formally announced a 12-year deal with the ACC that gives ESPN control of the Orange Bowl's media rights. Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources say ESPN has agreed to pay $55M per year for the Orange Bowl. The game will feature the ACC champion and an opponent from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. The deal is similar to the one announced late yesterday afternoon between ESPN, the SEC and Big 12 conferences for the Sugar Bowl. ESPN picked up the Sugar Bowl's media rights for $80M per year, sources said. The game will be aired in primetime on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Both deals grant ESPN extensive media rights, including TV, radio, mobile, 3D and int'l. The deals follows ESPN's 12-year agreement for the Rose Bowl, which was previously announced. Sources say ESPN is paying $80M per year for the Rose Bowl. ESPN also is reportedly close to a deal for the BCS playoffs for around $500M per year, which means ESPN will own college football's postseason for a total of $7.3B over 12 years.
The NFL Network has signed a digital user authentication agreement with Cablevision, allowing subscribers to view the channel and NFL RedZone via the carrier's Optimum TV to Go service. The deal allows Cablevision customers who get the channels on linear TV to view the content, including Thursday night live games on NFL Network, on any computer or tablet. The pact is a first for the NFL distributing its channels digitally through user authentication. NFL Senior VP/Media Strategy & Development Hans Schroeder said, "NFL Media continues to look for innovative ways to distribute our great content on as many platforms as possible and this authentication agreement with Cablevision falls squarely within that goal" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
A DAY IN THE LIFE: GRANTLAND's Rembert Browne offered a behind-the-scenes look at NFL Net's RedZone operations on an NFL Sunday. Host Scott Hanson is "often producing as much as anyone in the control room, shooting questions to the crew, pushing observations that determine how the show plays out, and repeatedly proving that his football IQ moves faster than the studio's Internet." Co-Producer Kent Camera said of RedZone airing game content from Fox and CBS, "That's the weird job for us; we're taking their broadcast, obviously, and so they're the ones that are 90 percent of what is on our air, ours is just trying to complement it and give it the context and relevance that the broadcast might need” (GRANTLAND.com, 11/14).
Startup youth sports programmer The Whistle has signed cross-platform content and distribution deals with IndyCar Entertainment and action sports outfit Alli Sports, as well as a technology services pact with multimedia and 3D company Immersion Sports. The trio of deals extends a year-long run of agreements for The Whistle that also have included the NFL, USOC, U.S. Soccer and the Harlem Globetrotters. As with the prior partnerships, The Whistle will license catalog and newly-created content from IndyCar and Alli. Immersion, meanwhile, will aid in the creation of several technology-related enhancements, particularly 3D animations during instructional segments. The Whistle co-Founder & CMO Jeff Urban said, "More people are understanding what we're doing and are joining the party. There are many, many more of these kind of deals we can do. It's up to us to be very strategic about how we go forward."
In L.A., Eric Pincus reported former NBAer Robert Horry "will be joining the Lakers broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet." Horry will "participate in select live studio broadcasts throughout the season" (LATIMES.com, 11/14)....In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic "SportsTalk Live" co-host Ivan Carter is "leaving" the net. CSN in a statement said, "His contract is expiring and he is leaving the network" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/14).
SUPER SOUNDTRACK: CBS Sports has teamed with musicians Queen and Helmut VonLichten to re-mix the song "We Will Rock You" with "The NFL on CBS" theme music to create a new anthem for the net's coverage of Super Bowl XLVII. VonLichten and Queen's Brian May collaborated to create "We Will Rock You VonLichten." VonLichten has had a long-standing relationship with CBS writing theme songs for a variety of programs (CBS).
FANTASY MEETS REALITY: Yahoo Head of Entertainment, Sports & Games Ken Fuchs yesterday sent an e-mail to fantasy users in regards to the site having a "significant outage" just prior to the 1:00pm ET NFL games on Sunday. Fuchs in the letter outlines the technical issue that caused the problem and writes, "We failed you this weekend, and there's no way to fix that. As a token of our appreciation for your patience and continued support, we wanted to give something back." The site is offering fans a complimentary football weekly Scouting Report and a 20% discount at the Yahoo Sports Store for the rest of the year (THE DAILY).