Amazon moved further into the sports media world Thursday as Disney announced the sale of its stake in the YES Network to an investor group that includes the Seattle-based tech giant.
The New York Yankees, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Amazon, and other partners acquired the 80 percent stake of the YES Network not already owned by the Yankees. The total enterprise value of the deal is $3.47 billion.
Disney, which owns ESPN, agreed to sell off regional sports networks — including YES — as a condition of regulatory approval related to its $71.3 billion acquisition deal with 21st Century Fox.
The YES Network (The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network) is the most-watched regional sports network, broadcasting games for the Yankees (MLB), Brooklyn Nets (NBA), New York City FC (MLS) and the New York Liberty (WNBA).
So why is Amazon involved? The company has invested heavily in streaming media for several years via its Prime Video arm, but has also shown a recent interest in sports. It paid the NFL millions to acquire the streaming rights for Thursday Night Football and inked a similar deal for Premier League Soccer last year. Amazon also produces the All or Nothing sports documentaries available to Prime members and last year hired longtime ESPN executive Marie Donoghue.
The press release issued Thursday doesn’t detail Amazon’s plans, but does describe it as “the innovative, multinational technology company.” An Amazon spokesperson declined to provide further information.
From the release:
The new strategic partnership leverages the expertise and market reach of three highly successful companies – Yankee Global Enterprises, one of the world’s leading sports brands; Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and leading provider of local sports and news; and Amazon, the innovative, multinational technology company. The three companies will work together to enhance the network and position it strategically to continue its leadership in sports broadcasting across all forms of distribution.
Here’s the new ownership breakdown for the YES Network, according to the Wall Street Journal.
YES Network ownership breakdown: Yankees: 26%
RedBird, Blackstone, Mubadala: 39% split roughly evenly
— Miriam Gottfried (@miriamgottfried) August 29, 2019