Fox Cable, Comcast race for channels

Leftover NASCAR events attract

NEW YORK — Playing an elaborate game of musical networks, Fox Cable sold its stake in Golf Channel and Outdoor Life to Comcast Corp. to gain 100% control of Speedvision.

Latter was high on the takeover agenda of Fox Cable Networks Group because last year Fox Sports laid out $1.6 billion for an eight-year license term to a series of NASCAR auto-racing events covering the first half of each year.

Speedvision, which reaches close to 40 million cable and satellite subscribers, will become an outlet for some of the NASCAR races that can’t be accommodated by the Fox Network, FX or the Fox Sports Net (Daily Variety, April 17).

It pays to play

Fox Sports paid only $90 million for its original minority stake in the tandem networks Speedvision and Outdoor Life, plus another $50 million for a minority position in Golf Channel. The networks have appreciated so dramatically in value that Fox Sports will fully finance its pickup of Speedvision through the sale of the minority interests in Outdoor Life and Golf to Comcast.

Wall Street pegs the market value of Speedvision between $700 million and $850 million. That figure should go up because Fox Cable will take over Speedvision’s clearance on cable systems, and Fox Sports will assume the programming of the network, including all of the NASCAR races that will appear on Speedvision for the first time.

Comcast comesaway from the deal with full ownership of Outdoor Life and a 92% majority in Golf Channel.