The MVPD-distributed home of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets play-by-play coverage and associated shoulder programming could soon wind up in the hands of a group of investors that includes the company that won’t be building its “HQ2” second quarters in Long Island City — and a company that won’t soon be merging with Tribune Media.
According to the New York Post and FOX Business, the investment group said to include the Yankees are ready to ink a deal that would give it control of YES Network — created in a partnership between the storied Major League Baseball club and the NBA franchise that calls Barclay Center home and today owned by FOX.
Thanks to The Walt Disney Co.’s merger with FOX, YES and some 21 regional sports networks need to be spun in order to meet regulatory approval for the deal.
According to both news sources, a $3.5 billion offer is being signed today. Citing unnamed sources, “the bid will be for the 80% of YES that the Yankees don’t already own.”
And, the Post says, “The deal will also be backed by the Sinclair Broadcast Group,” citing its sources.
The YES network was valued at $3.9 billion in 2014 when Fox grabbed the 80% stake that is up for bid.
With no one offering comment to the Post, the report is still based on speculation and unnamed sources.
Even so, Mary Ann Halford, Senior Advisor at OC&C Strategy Consultants, tells RBR+TVBR that Amazon’s involvement is the most important part of the deal because it is the latest sign that the last wall between cord cutters and the cable companies – live sports – is breaking down.
“With Amazon part of this buying team, it is likely that Yankees and Nets games will also be available to those who would like to stream the games,” Halford believes. “I would look to see if both Amazon and Sinclair will be part of other RSN purchases.”
Halford worked at Fox for a number of years and also consulted to them both domestically and internationally — in particular establishing the Fox International Channels Group from its initial platform of channels in Latin America to a global operation with channels in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
“The combination of the Yankees, Sinclair and Amazon is an interesting one and is indicative of the need to revamp the local regional sports network business models which have relied significantly on ever increasing license fees from pay TV providers,” Halford says.
The Yankees are committed to YES through 2042, with fees of about $90 million a year going to the baseball team.
A key to getting a deal done: streaming revenue.
Formally known as Yankee Entertainment & Sports Network LLC, YES can be seen across the New York Tri-State area and in New York State; a national feed free of rights issues is also available, with several MVPDs in South Florida offering YES.