Disney has "sold its 80% interest in the YES Network" to an investment group led by the Yankees and Sinclair Broadcast Group for $3.47B, according to Richard Morgan of the N.Y. POST. The new owners of YES also "include Amazon and investment firms including RedBird Capital, Blackstone and Mubadala Capital." The Yankees "already owned a 20% stake in YES" (N.Y. POST, 8/30). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Soper & Novy-Williams noted Disney "acquired majority ownership of the YES Network" as part of its $71B takeover of Fox assets earlier this year. But the Yankees’ owners had an "option to buy out that stake and held lengthy talks leading up to Thursday’s announcement." Sinclair will now own 20% of YES. The Yankees will have the largest piece, with 26%, while Amazon will have 15%, "with the right to buy more." The financial investors will "roughly split the remaining 39%" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/30). Sinclair said that it funded YES "through its investment in Diamond Sports Group, the wholly owned subsidiary that bought" the 21 RSNs and was formed with Weather Channel Owner Byron Allen (BALTIMORE SUN, 8/30). YES President Jon Litner will "stay on in his current role to ensure continuity" and "signed a new contract with the deal's closure." Sinclair will also "play a role in YES Network's distribution discussions in the future" (CABLEFAX.com, 8/30).
MLB POLICY CHANGE COMING? Asked how the deal might affect the digital streaming rights to Yankees games within the team's market, club President Randy Levine said that he expected MLB to "announce changes to its policy soon." The AP's Jake Seiner noted teams "cannot currently sell digital rights to local broadcasts." Levine: "You should just stay tuned because I think the commissioner will be speaking about that in the near future." MLB declined to comment (AP, 8/29).
“This transaction brings @YESNetwork & all of its popular programming even closer to the organization that inspired its very development.... We look forward to greatly expanding the way that sports content is delivered & consumed by fans everywhere.” - Hal Steinbrenner pic.twitter.com/paatx4m9bx
Nissan is now an "official sponsor of NCAA men’s basketball, including the Final Four, giving it the rights to use trademarked phrases like March Madness," according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. Nissan has had a deal with the NCAA since '11, but the automaker has been "using its Infiniti brand" for the men's hoops sponsorship category. Nissan will now "take over as the deal enters its final two years." Nissan, which has "poured major money into college football since inking a sponsorship of the Heisman Trophy 14 years ago, is leaning into college sports even more with the NCAA deal." The company is also "plotting on-the-ground marketing" at the '20 Final Four in Atlanta. But Nissan "won’t have automotive exclusivity." General Motors-owned Buick is "also a sponsor." Nissan's deal includes continuing its “Heisman House” college football campaign. This season’s campaign "includes five ads, jointly created" by ESPN and TBWA, N.Y. New to the roster this year is Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, who won the Heisman last year, and Paul Hornung, who took home the trophy way back in 1956 when at Notre Dame (ADAGE.com, 8/29).
The WNBPA announced the "formation of a board of advocates, which brings together leaders in business, politics, sports and entertainment," according to Ava Wallace of the WASHINGTON POST. The union, which currently is in CBA negotiations with the league, created the 14-member board to "serve as a resource for players during the negotiation period and beyond." The board will "focus on three major issues: general advocacy; marketing and group licensing; and player activism and philanthropy, per the group's mission statement." Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Basketball HOFer Alex English and former NBAer Jerry Stackhouse will "serve on the board." All members of the board, "none of whom are paid," were "selected with the input of the WNBPA's executive council." The board has not yet "decided on a specific schedule of meetings, or even if regular group meetings will occur." Partnering with names like Abrams and actress Kathy Ireland "helps give voice to a group of players who may not be as well known in realms of politics or entertainment" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/30).
WNBPA BOARD OF ADVOCATES
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
Level Forward co-Founder & CEO Adrienne Becker
NYU Adjunct Professor David Cooper
Basketball HOFer Alex English
Thirty Five Ventures GM Sarah Flynn
ABC's Sunny Hostin
Kathy Ireland Worldwide Chair, CEO & Chief Designer and former model Kathy Ireland
Turn 2 Foundation President and Jeter Ventures VP/Strategy & Development Sharlee Jeter
Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Former Girls Inc. President & CEO Joyce Roche
Former NBAer and Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse
Edelman PR Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer & VP Trisch Smith
Deloitte Greater Washington Area Managing Principal Tamika Tremaglio