According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, 21st Century Fox agreed to take over majority control of the YES Network on Friday, raising its ownership stake in the regional sports network to 80 percent.
Fox originally acquired 49 percent of the YES Network in December 2012, reportedly paying $584 million for that stake. A clause in the contract opened a three-year window for Fox to increase their stake to 80 percent, which is what Fox exercised this week.
According to Neil Best of Newsday, a final decision from Fox was not expected until much closer to their December 2015 deadline. Hoch adds that the remaining 20 percent of the network will continue to be held by Yankee Global Enterprises. As a result of the acquisition, the YES Network will become a consolidated entity of 21st Century Fox.
"Our investment in the YES Network underscores our commitment to growing our global sports portfolio with offerings that are exceptional and unique," said James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. "We look forward to expanding our partnership with Yankee Global Enterprises and to working with the network's management team to build on the YES Network's success."
Home to the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets, the YES Network has steadily grown since its debut in 2002 and is now available in approximately 9 million households in the teams’ television territory. In addition to New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania, YES is also available on a national scale through various cable and satellite television distributors.
Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees owner and chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, added:
“Clearly, 21st Century Fox is a great partner for us as the YES Network fulfills and expands its potential as one of the nation’s premier regional sports networks. We are gratified that 21st Century Fox has increased their stake and investment in the network. Yankee Global Enterprises is eager to continue working with 21st Century Fox as we explore ways to take YES to even greater heights.”
As for what it means to the Yankees baseball operations.
Yankees only sold 5% of their previous stake in @YESNetwork. They never owned majority. Fox just bought out others, including Goldman Sachs.
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) January 24, 2014
And of course, more money will ultimately go back into the team as a result of the agreement.
Also in that agreement: formula for how much Yankees receive as an annual rights fee as Fox ownership increased. My guess NYY now > $150M/yr
— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) January 24, 2014
Between this news and the Masahiro Tanaka signing on Wednesday, it hasn't been a bad week at all for the Yankees.
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