Digital Media

Amazon bids on Disney’s regional sports networks to feed its growing appetite for video


YES Network is among the Disney regional sports networks that Amazon is bidding to own. (And Alex Rodriguez — pictured here — has retired, but this is a great photo.)

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Amazon has a gameplan for more sports. 

The ecommerce giant bid on 22 Disney regional sports networks, according to a CNBC report Tuesday, in another sign of Amazon’s widening video ambitions. Amazon declined to comment. Disney didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

Amazon has been pouring money into its video-streaming facet of Prime memberships, not only with its original shows and movies but also with top-dollar licenses for high-profile sports like National Football League games in the US and Premier League soccer. Bidding to outright own Disney’s regional sports networks indicates Amazon’s appetite for live sports programming is only growing. 

Amazon already offers subscriptions to a huge library of video channels, called Amazon Channels, but so far its focus been providing a marketplace for other programmers to offer their networks. Buying these regional sports channels would move Amazon into the business of buying and offering sports networks of its own. 

Disney is selling these networks as part of its deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, which itself is a move to defend itself from streaming competitors like Amazon. With deep-pocketed digital powerhouses Netflix and Amazon ratcheting up competition for top-shelf video programming and for the audiences who watch it, Disney and other traditional media giants have been fortifying themselves with moves like the Disney-Fox megadeal to better compete.  

According to CNBC, Amazon is bidding for all 22 of the regional sports TV networks that Disney is acquiring from Fox, including YES Network, which features Yankees games. Others have already submitted bids to this first round, including private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds and other media groups. The second round of bids are expected before the end of the year. 

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