Yankees Buy Remaining 80% Stake In YES Net Back From Disney For $3.5B
The Yankees have repurchased YES Network from Disney for $3.5B in a deal that is "expected to close Friday," according to Gasparino & Moynihan of FOX BUSINESS. The Yankees "will be the majority owner" of the net. Sources said that the team "will partner with other companies, including Amazon, Sinclair and Blackstone." YES was "considered the prize jewel" of the 22 Fox RSNs being sold by Disney. The Yankees are "hoping Amazon will stream some of the team's games to a national audience, although details of how that would occur are unclear" (FOXBUSINESS.com, 3/8). In N.Y., Kosman & Morgan report the bid will be for the 80% of YES that the Yankees "don't already own." The net was valued at $3.9B in '14 when Fox paid for an 80% stake -- "leaving the Yankees with the rest." But the value of RSNs "generally have been declining as cable subscribers jump ship." YES is also "under contract to pay the Yankees broadcast fees" until '42 (N.Y. POST, 3/8). While Amazon, Sinclair and Blackstone will play a "strategic long-term part in plans for the network," the Yankees are "expected to retain say over what actually appears on the programming end, including announcers" (NEWSDAY.com, 3/8).
NOT DRAWING WHAT THEY THOUGHT: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Farrell notes YES is the first RSN to be sold, and while the remaining channels were "once thought to be worth around $20 billion," they are proving "harder to sell off." RSNs have "faced some backlash as their rates have skyrocketed and consumers have resisted paying for channels they never watch." That will likely cause the 21 other channels "to fetch a price in the $10 billion range" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 3/8).
CLOSING TIME: Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger said that he expected the company's $71.3B acquisition for most of Fox to close "soon." During a shareholders' call Thursday, Iger also made "no mention of possible layoffs to follow the closing of the Fox deal" (THEHOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 3/7).