News of a blockbuster deal among major players AEG Live, Ticketmaster and Cablevision has sent ripples through the live business. Multiple sources confirm to Billboard that a deal is imminent for Ticketmaster and Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) owner Cablevision to acquire about 49% of AEG Live, the live entertainment arm of Anschutz Entertainment Group (billboard.biz, Feb. 21). Contacts at the three companies declined to comment.

This partnership will allow AEG Live to more fiercely compete with Live Nation, which will leave Ticketmaster when its contract expires in 2009. What this new powerhouse will have-that Live Nation does not-is a cable music channel.

Fuse TV, the only current competitor to MTV, has since last spring operated under the MSGE umbrella. Fuse was formerly part of Rainbow Media, a division of Cablevision that includes cable TV networks WE: Women's Entertainment, Independent Film Channel and American Movie Classics.

Fuse, which sources say will undergo a multimillion-dollar rebranding effort in the coming months, will play a key role in the repositioning of AEG Live as a company now armed with a sizable media component and the world's largest ticketing company in Ticketmaster.

Cablevision is a publicly traded company and AEG is private; given AEG retains majority ownership in AEG Live, Cablevision will probably only be able to report earnings it receives from the promoter.

Under the direction of CEO Randy Phillips, AEG Live is the second-largest promoter in the world, reporting grosses totaling more than $742 million to Billboard Boxscore in 2007, trailing only Live Nation. Ticketmaster stakeholder (and former parent) IAC also owns a large stake in the Irving Azoff/Howard Kaufman megamanagement firm Front Line Management. IAC chairman Barry Diller is believed to be a major broker in putting the deal together with Cablevision's Dolan family, whose sports, media and entertainment holdings are numerous.

Click here to read the full story, including how this deal would give Ticketmaster a fully developed concert promoter interest and a solid ticketing partner, and how a partnership speaks volumes about how rapidly AEG Live has become an international force in live entertainment.