Fox ups ownership of YES to 80 percent

Undated file photo of Michael Kay and John Undated file photo of Michael Kay and John Sterling. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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Fox announced Friday that it has reached an agreement to raise its ownership position in the YES Network from 49 to 80 percent, exercising a right that was part of a deal announced in late 2012.

That agreement allowed the Yankees to cash out some of their stake in YES, but the team never owned a majority of the 12-year-old network and will continue to own the remaining 20 percent after the Fox deal is completed.

Tracy Dolgin, YES' longtime president and CEO, will remain in that role.

Fox raised its stake by buying out other partners, notably Goldman Sachs. The 2012 agreement valued the network at well over $3 billion, more than the Yankees themselves are worth.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a news release: "Clearly, 21st Century Fox is a great partner for us as the YES Network fulfills and expands its potential as one of the nation's premier regional sports networks. We are gratified that 21st Century Fox has increased their stake and investment in the network."

Fox, which owns 22 regional sports networks, could try to place Yankees games on its national cable outlet, Fox Sports 1.

A Fox source who requested anonymity said the company is not expected to rebrand the channel.

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In addition to the money the Yankees made in selling part of the network in 2012, they will receive a windfall from Fox in the form of payments that will extend the channel's rights to carry Yankees games to 2042.

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