Fox Cable Networks Group is negotiating with Comcast Corp. for its stake in
Speedvision/Outdoor Life Network and considering whether to trade its interest
in The Golf Channel for the MSO's 15 percent share of the motor-sports
Comcast is the last piece Fox Cable needs to acquire Speedvision/OLN. The
networks' other partners -- Cox Communications Inc., AT&T Corp., the estate
of cable legend Bill Daniels and Speedvision/OLN founder and president Roger
Werner -- put their shares in Speedvision or both networks to Fox March 24. Fox
Cable already owns 34 percent of the company.
Sources confirmed that negotiations with Comcast are ongoing, but there is no
indication that Fox and Comcast will imminently reach a deal.
Comcast has been particularly high on Golf, which is available in about 37
million homes and offers 24-hour links programming including instruction; news
and highlights; replays of classic major tournaments and match play events; and
live tournament coverage.
In February 2000, Comcast exercised its call option to increase its stake in
the network from 40 percent to 60.5 percent. Fox controls 30.9 percent of the
network and Times Mirror Inc. owns 8.6 percent.
According to a source familiar with Speedvision, Fox has until June 30 to
hammer out a deal with its partners in Speedvision/OLN. Currently, each party is
in the process of hiring investment bankers to value the networks.
According to sources, if the valuations come within 10 percent of each other,
then the sale price would be an average of the two figures. If those appraisals
are further apart, then the parties would have to go back to the negotiating
table to reach a deal.
So far, Fox believes the combined networks are worth about $1 billion.
Sources said the last two annual valuations of Speedvision/OLN valued the
company at between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion.
Fox has been interested in Speedvision ever since it landed the rights to
carry National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing programming in 1999. Fox
hopes to use Speedvision as a primary outlet for NASCAR fare.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Speedvision is available in 39 million
homes, although the network claims 41 million. OLN is available in about 36
Both networks, sources said, are profitable, with annual revenue of about
$150 million and cash flow in the $40 million range.