Much of the talk surrounding a potential Fox acquisition of Time Warner has focused on sports and with good reason. Through Turner Sports, Time Warner has one of the most impressive sets of sports rights on cable television. Adding Turner Sports' haul to the existing Fox Sports line-up – the rest of the MLB playoffs, the NFL, NASCAR and college football – would turn the latter into the dominant player in TV sports. ESPN would still be the leader in many ways, but FOX and Fox Sports 1 would have a virtually unmatched portfolio.
Such a move would be a boon to 21st Century Fox and a major loss for sports television. Turner Sports has been one of the most successful alternatives to ESPN and is generally well-regarded. Despite being unaffiliated with any of the Big Four broadcast networks, Turner Sports has managed for decades to acquire some of the biggest blue-chip properties in sports (even the NFL in the 1990s).
A potential merger would wipe out both a competitor for Fox and an alternative for viewers, making the sports TV business a little less risky for the remaining giants. Fox would not be the only one happy to see Turner Sports go – ESPN would be happy to no longer see comparisons between its NBA studio show and Inside the NBA, and all the networks would presumably be glad to have one less rival driving up rights fees.
Now, the threat exists of the big five turning into the big four. CBS and NBC would still be formidable, but the industry would primarily turn into a battle of Goliaths between ESPN and FOX. Sports Media Watch