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Comcast buys stake in sports networks

Comcast buys into two regional sports networks to bolster its competitive edge against satellite TV providers.

Comcast said Monday it will pay $570 million in cash to acquire stakes in two regional sports networks owned by Cablevision. The deal will give Comcast 100 percent ownership of Fox Sports Net New England and 60 percent of Fox Sports Net Bay Area. News Corp. owns the other 40 percent of the regional sports network near San Francisco.

Craig Moffet, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said the deal makes sense for the cable operator since it's already the incumbent cable provider in both the San Francisco and Boston markets. The deal will give Comcast a chance to cross promote its offerings and could bolster its competitive position with satellite operators, like DirecTV which distributes Liberty Satellite Sports services.

"While investors have made clear their distaste for the idea of Comcast making content acquisitions, the Regional Sports Network business is viewed - appropriately - through a different lens," he said in his research note. "In-region Regional Sports Networks are all about bolstering the core cable business, not diversification away from it."