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News Corp. buys 49 percent of YES Network; has option to buy more

New York YankeesNews Corp. has closed on an agreement to buy 49 percent of YES Network from the New York Yankees and the team’s equity partners, with the option to increase that stake to 80 percent in coming years.

News Corp. and its Fox Sports subsidiaries are already extensive rightsholders in baseball, both for national broadcasts on Fox affiliates and local broadcasts on Fox Sports networks. The move with the Yankees is seen as a broader expansion of News Corp.’s sports programming, which reportedly includes a new sports network in 2013 to compete with ESPN. From The New York Times:

A person briefed on the plans said News Corporation was expected to confirm its ambitions for a national network early in 2013.

As part of the deal announced Tuesday, YES Network’s current owners — Yankee Global Enterprises, the holding company for the Yankees, Goldman Sachs, Providence Equity Partners and others — will reduce their ownership in the cable channel. Yankee Global’s share will drop to 25 percent from 34 percent, according to a person with knowledge of the deal, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

When News Corporation assumes an 80 percent stake three years from now, it will be based on a valuation at that time of about $3.8 billion, the person said. Yankee Global will continue to hold a minority stake.

The Yankees receive $85 million a year from YES for broadcast rights.

RELATED STORIES: News Corp. negotiating majority share in YES Network


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