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Fanatics Exploring Purchase Of Regional Sports Networks

“The sports merchandise and trading card company just added the latter title to its major business focus in recent months.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Fanatics

Fanatics is already a major player in sports merchandise and trading cards. Now, they could be angling to enter the sports media rights space. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports that Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin has been in preliminary meetings to potentially add regional sports networks to Fanatics portfolio.

The sports merchandise and trading card company just added the latter title to its major business focus in recent months. Fanatics signed long-term trading card deals with the NBA, NBPA, MLB, MLBPA, and NFLPA this summer. The company is also exploring entering the gambling space by launching a sportsbook.

“Rubin’s meetings with league, team, distribution, and network executives have been dormant for several weeks, and nothing is imminent, as sources say Fanatics is concentrating on expanding other parts of its business before tackling media,” Ourand wrote in the article. “Several sources said that these talks with Rubin could pick back up again next year. Plus, leagues, teams and media companies are considering several options beyond Fanatics.”

The company could disrupt the RSN business just like the trading card business, which they came out of nowhere to upend over the summer.

Fanatics Trading Cards hasn’t released any products yet but is already valued at $10.4 billion after its latest funding round. Fanatics owns around 80% of the trading card company, with other investors like private equity giant Silver Lake, talent agency Endeavor, and VC firm Insight Partners all working into the fold.

The Michael Rubin-owned company is pushing into merchandise, trading cards, ticket selling, and sports betting. Media rights are the next logical step in that endeavor, but RSNs aren’t the same as those other industries.

Fanatics would likely have to take a loss on the properties in terms of subscriber-generated revenue, but the access to all of those team broadcasts could do wonders for its other business arms.

Leagues need a buyer for their distressed RSN assets, and Rubin could be their man.

Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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