Entertainment circles are buzzing about the possibility of the Walt Disney Co. acquiring 21st Century Fox Inc. Certainly there is a myriad of elements to such a deal and sports is right up there with the biggest of them.
If Disney were to acquire Fox, it would assume control of Fox’s many regional sports networks, including Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket. The deal, which is said to be worth more than $60 billion, would also give Disney the Fox studios and many of the Fox networks, but not including the Fox broadcast network, Fox News or Fox Sports 1.
According to CNBC, Fox’s regional sports networks make up one-third of the $60 billion all by themselves and it shows that Disney is committing itself even further to live sports.
“With the play to get the RSNs,” CNBC’s Eric Jackson wrote “… Disney is telegraphing that it is going to have the key sports you care about — nationally and locally — for a long time. If you want those games, you need to visit the Magic Kingdom, whether as a cable subscriber, an [over-the-top streaming] subscriber, or both.”
Fox’s regional networks carry 44 MLB, NBA and NHL franchises. Getting the rights to a reported 5,500 more live events per year could help Disney attract fans to the new ESPN+ streaming service it has in the works. However, even though Disney has not had regional sports networks (it did try a couple of decades ago to start one in Southern California), acquiring Fox’s could put up a red flag for federal regulators.
There have been few figures in sports more compelling than Billy Martin. MLB Network will show what promises to be a very interesting documentary on the former player and manager, most closely associated with the New York Yankees, at 5 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 14.
MLB Network Presents: Billy will be narrated by John Turturro, who played Martin in the 2007 miniseries The Bronx is Burning. Interview subjects will include his son, Billy Jr., his former wife Gretchen Martin Creswell, his widow Jill Martin, his former agent Eddie Sapir, and David Mantle, son of Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.
As a manager, Martin turned around every team he worked for, but often found himself in trouble with his own players, with former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and in a number of alcohol-fueled controversies.
“In my opinion, [he’s] the best game manager in the history of the game,” Hall of Famer Tony La Russa says in the film.
Along with La Russa, Rod Carew, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Tom Grieve, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson and Buck Showalter are interviewed.
The documentary will also have details from the car accident that killed Martin on Christmas Day in 1989, including a retracing of the route that Martin traveled home before crashing at the foot of his own driveway.
It was a surprise to learn that Aaron Boone would become the Yankees’ new manager after working for ESPN since 2010. Boone apparently won over the Yanks with his knowledge of and allegiance to analytics.
ESPN will now have to make a bigger overhaul to its Sunday Night Baseball booth for 2018. Dan Shulman had already begged off the series to spend more time with his family (he’ll still do some baseball games and continue with college basketball), so only Jessica Mendoza remains from the three-person crew.
“Sitting next to him for the last two years, there is no one I have learned more about the game from than him,” Mendoza said of Boone. “I am so pumped for this next adventure for Aaron and his family and have no doubt he will bring even more success to the Yankee organization.”
Shulman was equally proud.
“I couldn’t be happier for Aaron,” he said. “… I think we all felt he was destined to get back into the game at some point and I know how excited he is to have this kind of an opportunity. I am really looking forward to watching him on this journey.”
Despite air quality problems from the Southern California wildfires, there should be no problem with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum at 1:25 p.m. Sunday on Fox. The Eagles, who played at Seattle last week, have been practicing in Orange County. The Rams canceled outdoor practice Wednesday in Thousand Oaks and had made plans to practice Thursday at USC if the air wasn’t better. The Coliseum should have no air problems Sunday.
Tonight’s NFL game is Saints-Falcons at 5:20 p.m. on NBC and NFL Network. On Sunday, Fox’s 10 a.m. game is Cowboys-Giants. CBS will have Redskins-Chargers at 1 p.m. The 5:20 p.m. NBC game is Ravens-Steelers.
We’re in the college football lull before bowl games. That clears the decks for the Army-Navy Game at noon Saturday from Philadelphia on CBS. Army is 8-3 and Navy is 6-5.
UP & DOWN THE DIAL
Fox NFL Sunday will originate from the Coliseum at 9 a.m. Sunday. … The Steelers’ comeback win over the Bengals gave ESPN a 7.8 overnight big-market rating for Monday Night Football, up 30% from the comparable game last season. … NBC plans to once again primarily use its Skycam angle for the Broncos-Colts Thursday night game on Dec. 14. … Give Cris Collinsworth a break! That’s exactly what NBC plans to do on Dec. 16 and 25. Kurt Warner of NFL Network will be the analyst alongside Mike Tirico for the respective Bears-Lions and Steelers-Texans games. Collinsworth will work games with Al Michaels on Dec. 17 and 23. … Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Seattle Seahawks radio booth following a reported lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.