As expected, News Corp. announced Tuesday it has taken a 49% equity stake
in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network.
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
The agreement marks FSMG's return into the country's top
"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
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
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
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.