Walt Disney Co. has sold its 80% stake in the YES regional sports network to Sinclair Broadcast Group and an investment consortium that includes the New York Yankees and Amazon, the companies announced Thursday.
Based on the sale of the stake, the cable channel, which televises New York Yankees baseball and Brooklyn Nets basketball, is valued at $3.47 billion. The Yankees already owned a 20% stake in the channel.
Along with Amazon and Yankee Global Enterprises, the investment group includes RedBird Capital and funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities and Mubadala Capital. The Yankees will own 26%, Sinclair 20%, Amazon 15%, and the remaining 39% will be split among the three funds.
Even though Amazon is a partner, Sinclair will control the YES Network’s distribution on cable and satellite systems and streaming platforms. YES Network President Jon Litner has signed a new contract and will remain as the lead executive at the network.
New York Yankees President Randy Levine said in a Thursday conference call that the digital stream of the Yes Network will continue to be operated by previous partner Fox Sports through the end of the current baseball season. Levine said Amazon’s role in the partnership will be revealed “in the future as we start to roll out new programs.”
Disney agreed to sell YES and 21 other regional sports networks it received in last year’s $71-billion acquisition of assets from 21st Century Fox. The sale was required by the Department of Justice as one of the conditions for regulatory approval for the deal.
Sinclair completed the $9.6-billion acquisition of 21 regional sports networks on Aug. 23, which did not include YES.
YES Network was founded in 2002 and is available to cable and satellite customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania. In addition to the Yankees and Nets, the channel carries the New York Liberty of the WNBA and Major League Soccer’s New York City FC.