Ice Cube And LL Cool J Are Investing In Sports Media, Looking To Buy 22 Sports Channels Including YES Network

Written by Ann Brown

Two Hip-Hop veterans have teamed up not for a rap collaboration but for a business venture instead. Ice Cube and LL Cool J “are partnering with a group of investors looking to place a bid on 22 regional sports channels, of which the YES Network is included,” TMZ reported. The deal for the 22 stations will reportedly be anywhere from $15 to $25 billion.

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The Justice Department is forcing Disney to sell off the 22 channels it acquired when it bought Fox . Disney is already a majority owner of ESPN and controlling 22 more sports stations would give it too much control in sports TV.

“Disney got the 22 stations as part of its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox,” TMZ reported. According to the Justice Department’s complaint, Disney and Fox compete to sell cable sports programming to MVPDs in various local markets across the United States.

The channels in the package include Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, and Fox Sports Southwest, among others. And there is the YES Network, which broadcasts Yankees games. Just this one channel is believed to be worth between $5 and $6 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Other partners in the deal with LL Cool J and Ice Cube are billionaire Alex and Ani jewelry founder Carolyn Rafaelian, along with others.

YES Network
LL Cool J, second from front left, and Ice Cube watch the action as The Power plays the Ghost Ballers during the first half of Game 1 in the BIG3 Basketball League in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday, July 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Ice Cube confirmed the news of his plans to bid on a Sports TV network with LL Cool with XXL and told the magazine, “It’s time for the world to get sports and culture presented to them in a fresh new way.”

LL Cool J and Ice Cube’s group of partners aren’t the only bidders for the collection of sports TV channels. Private equity titans like Apollo Global Management, Blackstone Group and the Sinclair Broadcast Group are also looking to buy the group of channels.

Initial bids are due Nov. 8.

Both LL Cool J and Ice Cube have long been into businesses outside of music. LL Cool J, who completed the business of entertainment, media and sports program at Harvard Business School in 2017, had a clothing line and has written four books (“I Make My Own Rules,” the children-oriented book “And The Winner Is…,” fitness book “The Platinum Workout,” and “LL Cool J (Hip-Hop Stars).”

Ice Cube not only has a thriving film production company, Cube Vision, but also a clothing line and a basketball league — BIG3, a 3-on-3 concept professional basketball league. Ice Cube’s Big3 is an eight-team 3-on-3 professional basketball league. The league had initial games in June 2017 and debuted on Fox Sports, attracting nearly 400,000 viewers. Fox Sports renewed and expanded its TV contract with the league two months later.