The Yankees have reached an agreement to buy the YES Network from Disney for $3.4 billion, Fox Business reported on Friday.
The move had been widely expected in the industry, and results from a contractual right the Yankees had in their deal with Fox, which had owned 80 percent of the network to the Yankees’ 20 percent. The Associated Press reported that the deal values the network at $3.47 billion overall.
As part of the government’s agreement to allow Disney to buy Fox’s entertainment empire, Disney had to sell off Fox’s regional sports networks.
That, in turn, triggered the Yankees’ right to buy it back, which they exercised.
But the Yankees will not lay out all the cash themselves. They have financial partners, which include Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Each of those entities plays a strategic long-term part in plans for the network, but the Yankees are expected to retain say over what appears on the programming end, including announcers.
Amazon and Sinclair have distribution muscle in the form of digital streaming and local television stations, respectively. With increasing numbers of households dropping traditional cable TV bundles, fees for streaming games likely will become an important revenue stream for sports networks and teams.
Sports Business Daily reported that the deal could take months to close. There are other minority investors, which AP said includes The Blackstone Group, RedBird Capital, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, MSD Capital and Mubadala Development Company.
YES is by far is the most valuable of the 22 RSNs that had been owned by Fox. The others might be sold as a group to one entity in the coming weeks.