Official: News Corp. Acquires 49% Stake in YES Network
Could own 80% of network in three years
By Tim Baysinger -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/20/2012 11:33:02 AM
The channel's current owners, Yankee Global Enterprises, Goldman Sachs and its other investors, will reduce their ownership share. After three years, News Corp. may acquire an additional stake for up to 80%; Yankee Global Enterprises would still hold a "significant" minority stake.
News Corp. did not disclose financial terms, but published reports put it roughly at $1.5 billion or more (YES is valued at roughly $3 billion). The investment is expected to close by the end of the year.
The acquisition adds to News Corp.'s regional sports businesses and is seen as another step towards a national all-sports cable channel, which has long been rumored. News Corp.'s Fox Sports Media Group is the leader in the RSN space, with 20 owned-and-operated channels in the U.S. ESPN, its would-be competitor should it launch the all-sports network, owns 18 RSNs.
The agreement marks FSMG's return into the country's top media market.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance News Corporation's industry-leading portfolio of sports properties, while also strategically re-entering the New York market," said James Murdoch, deputy COO, News Corp. "The YES Network represents the gold standard for regional sports networks and is a pioneer in sports media. We look forward to working with Yankee Global Enterprises, the network's management team, and all of our partners to build on a decade of success and take the YES Network to even greater heights."
Hal Steinbrenner, chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, added, "This transaction underscores the great value we and our partners created in establishing the YES Network and sets the network on the path for even greater achievements in the future. We are excited to have News Corporation as a partner.
"Fox wrote the book on regional sports networks, and we are excited to partner with Fox and take advantage of this opportunity to build upon our leadership position," said Tracy Dolgin, president and CEO, YES Network.
Launched in 2002, the YES Network is the television home to MLB's New York Yankees and the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. YES also announced a new media rights deal to keep the Yankees on the network through 2042, subject to MLB approval.
According to Nielsen, YES Network has been the most-watched regional sports network in the country for the past nine years. YES boasts roughly 9 million subscribers regionally and an additional 15 million nationally. Forbes has listed it among the top ten sports business brands the last three years.
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