Yankees Team Up With Sinclair, Amazon to Reacquire YES Network

Three private equity firms are also involved in the deal with Disney valued at $3.47 billion

The New York Yankees have officially partnered up with Sinclair Broadcast Group and Amazon to purchase YES Network from The Walt Disney Company, acquiring the 80% of the regional sports network not already held by Yankee Global Enterprises at a total enterprise value of $3.47 billion. Additional equity investments were provided by RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, and Mubadala Capital. Jon Litner will also remain in his existing role as President of the YES Network.

The deal, which was speculated as far back as March, brings the country’s most-watched RSN back under the Yankees’ control for the first time since 2014 when 21st Century Fox became the network’s majority owner by increasing its ownership interest from 49% to 80%. Disney then acquired YES in the short-term last year when it entered into a deal with the Department of Justice that allowed Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets to proceed while requiring the subsequent sale of Fox’s 22 RSNs.

“This transaction brings the YES Network and all of its popular programming even closer to the organization that inspired its very development,” says Hal Steinbrenner, CEO, Yankee Global Enterprises. “Along with our partners, we look forward to greatly expanding the way that sports content is delivered and consumed by fans everywhere.”

Though Sinclair is involved in the Yankees/YES deal, its $10.6 billion deal for the other 21 Fox RSNs was a separate transaction that closed last week. Sinclair is also teaming up with the Chicago Cubs to launch another RSN – The Marquee Sports Network – this spring. With YES, Marquee, and the 21 Fox recently-acquired RSNs, Sinclair now holds 23 RSN brands in its portfolio.

“There are very few sports brands in the world as great as the New York Yankees that offer impressive reach and recognition,” says Chris Ripley, President and CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group. “We look forward to working with our partners to develop and deliver top-notch play action and sports programming for the fans.”

According to Multichannel News, Yankees Global Enterprises now owns 26%, Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group subsidiary has a 20% stake (for roughly $346 million), Amazon has 15% stake, and the three financial investors own a total of 39%.

YES – which holds media rights to the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, and the WNBA’s New York Liberty – launched in 2002 and has earned 118 Emmy Awards. In addition to televising 128 regular season Yankees games per season, the YES Network also airs pre-and postgame shows; Yankeeography, the Emmy award-winning biography series on past and present Yankees greats; and Yankees Magazine, the weekly magazine show consisting of Yankees highlights, player profiles, behind-the-scenes features and interviews.

“Throughout its nearly two-decades on-air, the YES Network has set the gold standard for regional sports coverage,” says Randy Levine, President, New York Yankees. “We look forward to working with our strategic partners and our investors – RedBird Capital, Blackstone and Mubadala Capital – to expand the network in innovative and exciting ways.”

According to the joint announcement, Yankee Global Enterprises, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Amazon will work together to enhance the network and position it strategically to continue its leadership in sports broadcasting across all forms of distribution. Yankee Global Enterprises develop, produce and market content, while Sinclair (which now owns 22 RSN brands and the Tennis Channel as well as 191 television stations in 89 markets) will work with the YES team management to manage traditional and virtual distribution relationships.