Disney has reached a separate agreement with the New York Yankees to sell its majority interest in the YES network, which carries Yankee games in the team’s hometown market, for about $3.5 billion. The team already owns the remainder of the channel. Amazon is a partner with Sinclair and the team in that transaction, according to industry sources.
Disney has been under pressure to find a buyer for the sports cablers that it inherited as part of its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox. The sale of the channels was a condition of the Justice Department’s approval of the Fox transaction.
The initial forecasts for the RSN sale values the entire group including YES at $19 billion-$20 billion. But the limited number of players in the auction underscored the concerns about the pay-TV market and the value of channels dependent on licensing high-priced sports programming from local teams.
Sinclair’s muscle in local TV markets as the owner of about 170 TV stations nationwide makes it well suited to extract value from the RSNs by using its leverage for carriage deals with MVPDs.