Yankees Team Up With Amazon, Sinclair on YES Network

The New York Yankees completed a deal to acquire the remaining 80% interest in the regional sports network that bears its name — the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network — teaming up with online retailer Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group in a deal valued at about $3.47 billion.

Officially, YES Network was purchased by Yankee Global Enterprises, which includes the team and strategic partners Sinclair and Amazon from The Walt Disney Co. Additional equity investments were provided by RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business and Mubadala Capital.

Sinclair said it paid about $346 million for a 20% interest in the network through its Diamond Sports Group subsidiary.

YES Network is the Yankees' local TV rightsholder. 

YES Network is the Yankees' local TV rightsholder. 

“We are excited about partnering with such a renowned franchise as the New York Yankees,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in a press release. “With this investment, we will have 23 RSN brands, including Marquee with the iconic Chicago Cubs, and 21 RSN brands acquired from the Walt Disney Company last week.”

According to New York Yankees president Randy Levine, the team has a 26% interest in the YES Network, while Amazon has a 15% stake with the right to go higher. The remaining 39% is split fairly evenly between RedBird, Blackstone and Mubadala.

The YES Network was one of 22 RSNs controlled by 21st Century Fox that were sold to Disney as part of a larger deal for certain assets valued at $71.3 billion. As part of the federal approval process for that deal, Disney agreed to divest the networks, selling 21 of them to Sinclair earlier this year for about $9.6 billion. The YES Network was separated from that sale because the Yankees had the right of first refusal to purchase Fox’s 80% stake.

Speculation that the Yankees had enlisted the help of Amazon and Sinclair has been rampant for months. Thursday’s announcement basically confirms those earlier reports.

In addition to Yankees games, YES Network offers content from the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, and the WNBA’s New York Liberty. The RSN is the most watched RSN in the country, according to the channel.

“This transaction brings the YES Network and all of its popular programming even closer to the organization that inspired its very development,” said Yankee Global Enterprises CEO Hal Steinbrenner in a press release. “Along with our partners, we look forward to greatly expanding the way that sports content is delivered and consumed by fans everywhere.”

Sinclair, which also owns The Tennis Channel in addition to the former Fox RSNs, will work closely with YES to manage traditional and virtual distribution relationships. Current YES Network president Jon Litner will remain in that role.