For the better part of two years, ESPN and Fox Sports have been engaged in a heated battle for the attention of the North American sports viewer. With the news Thursday that Disney (the parent company of ESPN) has landed 21st Century Fox, does that mean that the war is over?
ESPN will get a bunch of valuable RSNs (Regional Sports Networks) out of the deal - including Prime Ticket in LA, Fox Sports West in LA and the YES Network in New York. However, ESPN and the major national Fox Sports entities like FOX (which broadcasts NFL football on Sundays and the MLB playoffs), FS1, FS2 and the Big Ten Network will not be a part of the package. Those networks will be part of a spinoff company after the deal is finalized. What will be interesting to see is if this new company wants to invest in FOX Sports - specifically FS1 - which has thrown tons of money around in an attempt to compete with ESPN.
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ESPN has had some much publicized financial challenges in the past few years, but ESPN president John Skipper told the entire company Wednesday that great things are ahead for the Worldwide Leader.
"Skipper's message was we need to control the sky-is-falling narrative better since that's just not the case," a staffer in attendance of the meeting told SI.com. "I would say the first hour was rally the troops, a big-time pep rally: here's our data, look at our great numbers. The next time someone is telling you we are losing steam, it just isn't the case."