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Amazon bids on Disney's sports networks to feed its appetite for video

It would get Amazon in the channel-ownership business.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

YES Network is among the Disney regional sports properties that Amazon is bidding to own. (Alex Rodriguez -- pictured here -- has retired from the Yankees, but this is a great photo.)

Getty Images

Amazon has a game plan for more sports. 

The e-commerce giant has bid on Disney's 22 regional sports networks, CNBC reported Tuesday, in another sign of Amazon's widening video ambitionsAmazon declined to comment. Disney didn't immediately return a request for comment. 

Amazon has been pouring money into the video-streaming facets of its Prime memberships, not only with its original shows and movies but also with top-dollar licenses for high-profile sports like National Football League games in the US and Premier League soccer. Bidding to outright own Disney's regional sports networks indicates that Amazon's appetite for live sports programming is only growing. 

Amazon already offers subscriptions to a huge library of video channels, called Amazon Channels, but so far its focus been providing a marketplace for other programmers to offer their networks. Buying these regional sports channels would move Amazon into the business of buying and offering networks of its own. 

Disney is selling these networks as part of its deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, which itself is a move to defend itself from streaming competitors like Amazon. With deep-pocket digital powerhouses Netflix and Amazon ratcheting up competition for top-shelf video programming and for the audiences who watch it, Disney and other traditional media giants have been fortifying themselves with moves like the Disney-Fox megadeal to better compete. Disney and Fox shareholders approved the $71.3 billion deal in July. The merger could be complete in the spring.

According to CNBC, Amazon is bidding for all 22 of the regional sports TV networks that Disney is acquiring from Fox, including YES (Yankee Entertainment and Sports), which features Yankees games. Others have already submitted bids to this first round, including private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds and other media groups. The second round of bids are expected before year's end. 

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