A big driver behind Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox's pursuit of Time Warner is the potential to enable the Fox Sports 1 network to mount a more legitimate challenge to sports giant ESPN, observers say. That reflects sports programming's strength in commanding higher advertising rates and fees from TV providers. A merger between 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would result in a company that receives 40% of TV-provider affiliate fees, according to MoffettNathanson.

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