The New York Yankees, along with partners Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group, have announced the purchase of the YES Network from Disney at a total enterprise value of $3.47 billion.
As part of its purchase of Twentieth Century Fox, Disney agreed to divest the 22 Fox regional sports networks (RSN). The YES Network sale was broken off from a bidding process after the Yankees exercised a right of first refusal to buy back the cable outlet, leaving the likes of MLB, Sinclair and Apollo Global Management to submit bids. The Yankees had retained 20 percent of YES Network ownership. The newly announced acquisition is for the remaining 80% that was not under the control of Yankee Global Enterprises, with the announcement confirming news of a deal that has been expected for months. For Sinclair, this transaction is separate from its $9.6 billion deal to purchase 21 RSNs and Fox College Sports from Disney.
The YES Network is the country’s most-watched regional sports network (RSN), broadcasting games, programs and specialty content for the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
Since its launch in 2002, the YES Network has earned 118 Emmy Awards and has consistently been ranked as one of the most valuable sports business brands in the world. 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.
The new strategic partnership leverages the expertise and market reach of three highly successful companies – Yankee Global Enterprises, one of the world’s leading sports brands; Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and leading provider of local sports and news; and Amazon, the innovative, multinational technology company. The three companies will work together to enhance the network and position it strategically to continue its leadership in sports broadcasting across all forms of distribution. Jon Litner will remain in his existing role as President of the YES Network.
Yankee Global Enterprises will contribute its excellence in developing, producing and marketing sports content that is compelling for fans globally. Sinclair, which is the owner of 22 RSN brands and the Tennis Channel, as well as the owner, operator, and service provider to 191 television stations in 89 markets, will work with the YES team management to manage traditional and virtual distribution relationships.
“This transaction brings the YES Network and all of its popular programming even closer to the organization that inspired its very development,” said 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.”
“Throughout its nearly two-decades on-air, the YES Network has set the gold standard for regional sports coverage,” said 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.”
“There are very few sports brands in the world as great as the New York Yankees that offer impressive reach and recognition,” said 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.”
The partnership received equity investments from three leading financial investors: RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, and Mubadala Capital.
“The Yankees have assembled a tremendous ownership group to steward YES as the premier regional sports network in the country,” said Gerry Cardinale, Managing Partner of RedBird Capital. “It has been a privilege to work with the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family for almost two decades since we created the YES Network back in 2001. We are excited to continue this partnership and to be part of this team.”
Todd Hirsch, a Senior Managing Director in Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, said, “The YES Network is a first-class brand in the sports media industry – much like the iconic team that inspired its creation. It has unrivaled and in-demand content that fans love, and we’re excited about the opportunity to partner with this exceptional investor group to help fuel its continued success moving forward.”
“The opportunity to invest in the YES Network as part of this consortium is a natural extension of our relationship with the Yankees organization,” said Hani Barhoush, Head of Mubadala Capital. “It is also squarely in-line with our private equity strategy and our history and track record of identifying high quality content assets managed by top quality management teams and supported by strong ownership groups.”