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Disney wants Fox's regional sports networks to boost ESPN

Disney wants Fox's regional sports networks to boost ESPN

According to Faber, Fox's regional sports networks are included in the proposal for the latest negotiations, meaning ESPN would take over the regional sports coverage for 44 MLB, NBA, and National Hockey League franchises that are now broadcast on Fox's regional networks.

Disney and 21st Century Fox's on-again, off-again talks, which fizzled somewhat at the end of last month, appear to be back on, with the two sides zeroing in on a deal that could close as soon as next week.

The Reuters sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And it may go to Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch.

"It's always good to look at what's going to create the most value for our shareholders", he told attendees.

Early reports have said that Fox plans to keep their local stations, sports, and news divisions but sell off all the movie and TV assets of 21st Century Fox.

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Sky shares were up 1.3pc to £9.89 in afternoon trade.

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.

Investment analyst Eric Jackson said the deal for Fox's RSNs amounts to Disney-owned ESPN doubling down on sports rights, which it can use to beef up the live sports offerings within its ESPN+ streaming service launching in 2018.

As Jackson pointed out, CNBC's David Faber estimated that FOX's RSNs would be valued at about $20 billion. They also own the publishing giant News Corporation, parent of The Times, the Sun, The Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins.

Any potential deal would follow the US Department of Justice's decision to sue to block AT&T Inc's $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc.