Ice Cube On Fox Sports Network Bid: ‘We’re Still In The Game. Now It’s Time To Win It For The Culture’
Ice Cube’s Big3 three-on-three basketball league is in the final round of bidders hoping to buy a group of regional sports networks that are for sale by Disney as part of its $71 billion Fox takeover.
The competition is heating up. Big3 has significant financial backing and hopes to create a new national network aimed at a younger, more diverse audience than traditional sports channels.
“We’re still in the game. Now it’s time to win it for the culture,” the hip-hop-artist-turned-investor tweeted.
The former N.W.A. artist runs Big3 with LL Cool J and entrepreneur Jeff Kwatinetz. Big3 launched in 2017. Ice Cube is teaming up with investment bank Macquarie Group and entrepreneur Carolyn Rafaelian to finance the bid, New York Post reported. They have lined up Serena Williams and Snoop Dogg as content partners if they acquire the networks, according to Bloomberg.
Other companies vying for Disney’s Fox Regional Sports Network assets include John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. (owner of the Atlanta Braves) and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Bloomberg reported.
The bids start at $10 billion.
Big3 wrote a letter last week to the FCC accusing Charter Communications of trying to undermine the sale and depress prices to support its largest shareholder — Liberty Media, one of the bidders.
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Doing business as Spectrum, Charter is the second-largest cable operator in the U.S. by subscribers after Comcast. In 2016, Charter completed its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
Charter is threatening to drop the Fox regional sports networks from its channel lineup to depress prices in the Disney auctions, Big3 alleges.
Fox is selling 22 networks through Disney as part of their planned $71 billion merger. Disney, which owns ESPN, must sell the networks to get regulatory approval for the merger. Regulators were concerned that the company would have too much control over sports TV if it owned both ESPN and the regional broadcasters.
Consolidation among would-be owners is a possibility.
LL Cool J talked about his vision for creating a new sports TV network at the intersection of politics and pop culture — a place where all voices are welcomed and can be heard, he told NBC News:
“A new network for a new world … something that could usher in a new era and really bring the voice of the new generation to the forefront,” LL Cool J said. “The Gen Zs, the millennials, really give these kids a platform, a way to engage in sports in a really cool and fun and exciting way — having a full network, great baseball being played and surrounding those great sports with really culturally diverse programming that really looks like America and has the voice of where the world is going.”