The Wilpon family, which sold the team last year to Steve Cohen for about $2.42 billion, are considering multiple options for its majority stake in the network, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. A deal is not certain, and the group could eventually elect to retain some or all of SNY, the people said.
Cohen is among those interested, the people said. He is coordinating with RedBird Capital, the investment fund run by former Goldman Sachs partner Gerry Cardinale, which is already an investor in YES Network (the Yankees RSN) and which recently acquired a stake in NESN (the Red Sox RSN) as part of a wider investment in Fenway Sports Group.
Cardinale, the Mets and a representative for Allen & Co., the bankers that sold the team and would handle any SNY transaction, all declined to comment.
Launched in 2006, SNY serves about 8 million homes in the New York metropolitan area, and 12 million across the country. Sterling Equities, the investment firm owned by the Wilpon and Katz families, owns 65% of the network, with Charter Communications (parent of Time Warner) and Comcast sharing the rest.
The news comes with the cable television at a major inflection point, as cord-cutters and cord-nevers force networks to adopt streaming strategies. RSNs are at the center of that conversation, as they move from a business model heavy on wholesale distribution to one that also includes direct-to-consumer options.
It’s logical that Steve Cohen would be interested, according to Chris Bevilacqua, a New York-based media consultant.
“At the end of the day, an RSN’s existence is derived from the intellectual property rights holder, which in this case are the teams,” Bevilacqua said. “Team owners that are aligned with the media partner, that’s where this world is moving, especially with all this disruption in the industry.”
For RedBird, given its current holdings, there’d be value in adding more scale in the form of highly valuable sports rights, Bevilacqua said. The same holds true for Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns more than 20 RSNs and is a partner in YES Network, and possibly even Amazon, another YES Network strategic partner, as it grows out sports content on Prime Video.
SNY, which is profitable in a normal baseball season, is the official broadcast home of the New York Mets, plus the NFL’s Jets (minus live games) and the UConn women’s basketball team. Its deal with the Mets expires in 2030, according to ESPN.
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