Walt Disney Co.’s potential takeover of much of 21st Century Fox could provide an enormous boost to Disney’s ESPN sports empire.
Disney would like to buy Fox’s regional sports networks — including Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West and YES, the network that carries the New York Yankees — as part of any deal, according to two people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to comment.
The regional channels have become highly lucrative because they draw ardent sports fans in individual markets who want to connect with their teams. Comcast Corp. and Sony Pictures Entertainment also have expressed interest in Fox’s regional sports networks.
Fox’s regional sports networks are valued at $22.4 billion, according to an analysis Wednesday by Guggenheim Securities. Fox’s entertainment channels, meanwhile, including FX and National Geographic, were valued at $8.7 billion.
Guggenheim’s analysis put the value of all of Fox assets at $68 billion.
Losing the regional networks would leave Fox with a skimpy sports portfolio — the Fox broadcast network that airs NFL games and other sports including Major League Baseball’s World Series.
Fox plans to hold onto its national cable channel Fox Sports 1.