Yankees Join Amazon To Buy Back YES Network
By Community | March 11, 2019
The New York Yankees of Major League Baseball are buying back the YES Network, the most-watched regional sports network in America, partnering with Amazon in a deal that will give the company the right to stream games in the team’s broadcast territory, according to The Associated Press.
The Yankees will purchase 80 percent of the network from The Walt Disney Co. in a deal valuing YES at $3.47 billion, nearly $500 million less than when 21st Century Fox acquired a majority stake in 2014.
Yankee Global Enterprises is the lead investor, partnered with Amazon.com Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group as its strategic investors, a source familiar with the negotiations told AP.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the purchase was not announced and has up to 120 days to close.
YES has been the most-watched regional sports network in the U.S. in 14 of the last 16 years. Yankees games on YES averaged 326,000 viewers for live telecasts last season.
Ronald Blum of The Associated Press reported:
Mubadala Development Co., a United Arab Emirates’ sovereign wealth fund, is a minority investor along with The Blackstone Group, RedBird Capital, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and MSD Capital, which manages assets of Michael Dell and his family.
YES was owned by Yankee Global Enterprises, Goldman Sachs, Providence Equity and NJ Holdings (a company then controlled by former New Jersey Nets owners Louis Katz and Ray Chambers) when YES sold a 49 percent stake to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in late 2012.
News Corp. split into two companies the following year, with broadcast properties spun off to 21st Century Fox.
21st Century Fox raised its stake to 80 percent in early 2014 and Yankee Global Enterprises reduced its stake from 26 percent to 20 percent in a deal that valued the network at $3.9 billion.
Disney announced in December 2017 a deal to acquire Fox, a change in control that triggered Yankee Global Enterprises right-of-first refusal to buy back the YES Network shares. Disney already owns ESPN, and to gain antitrust approval it reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department last June to sell the 22 regional sports networks it was acquiring.
RSNs have dropped in value with the rise in cord-cutters among consumers. The deal to invest in YES will give Amazon rights to stream the games of teams on the network within their local territories.
YES broadcasts the Yankees, the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and Major League Soccer’s New York City FC team.
Yankee Global Enterprises, controlled by the Steinbrenner family, owns 20 percent of NYCFC. The rest of NYCFC is owned by City Football Group, controlled The Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak is chairman of City Football Group and chief executive officer of Mubadala.