×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Disney Sells Its Last Regional Sports Network to Sinclair, Yankees, Amazon

Walt Disney Co. has sold its stake in a regional sports outlet devoted to New York Yankees baseball, effectively ridding itself of a passel of TV-sports properties it acquired as part of its recent $71.3 billion buy of the bulk of 21st Century Fox.

Disney said Thursday that it sold its 80% interest in YES to an investor group that includes the Yankees, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Amazon and RedBird Capital, among others. The baseball team controls the other 20% of the media outlet, and the deal values the Disney stake at $3.47 billion.

Disney’s deal to buy Fox came with a mandate for the company to sell off Fox’s interests in 22 different regional sports networks. Sinclair bought 21 of them in a recently completed deal.

The pact gives multiple buyers the chance to get more involved in sports programming, one of the more stable TV formats around in an era when more consumers are not watching live linear TV. At the same time, the business of regional sports cable networks has become more difficult, as they command high programming fees from cable and satellite distributors, even though not all subscribers watch or want them.

Amazon, which has a deal in place to stream the Fox feed of “Thursday Night Football,” gets to dip its toe into new waters. The Yankees get more control over the fate of a network tied directly to the team. And Sinclair bolsters a swelling operation in TV sports.

“We are excited about partnering with such a renowned franchise as the New York Yankees,” said Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair, in a statement. “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.”

During a conference call held Thursday, Yankees President Randy Levine said Jon Litner, president of YES, had signed a new contract to stay at the helm of the operation. Levine said the Yankees will own about 26% of the business after closing the purchase from Disney, while Sinclair would control approximately 20%. Amazon has a 15% stake, with the option to buy more at a later date, he added.

Executives kept mum about an ongoing carriage dispute with satellite distributor Dish that has kept YES off of its platforms. “I never talk about negotiations in public,” Levine said.

And he hinted the group might have an opportunity next year to find a new distributor for digital rights to the games it controls. At present, a Fox-owned entity has digital rights to Yankees games, Levine said, but he suggested there could be new guidance from Major League Baseball about how digital rights might be sold going forward.

 

 

More TV

  • Tye Sheridan

    Tye Sheridan Starring in Survival Thriller 'Wireless' From Steven Soderbergh for Quibi

    Quibi has ordered another show with notable Hollywood talent attached: scripted series “Wireless” starring Tye Sheridan with Steven Soderbergh on board as executive producer. In the made-for-mobile-screens thriller, a smartphone has a central role. Sheridan (“Ready Player One,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) plays a self-obsessed college student who is stranded in the Colorado mountains after he crashes [...]

  • Ciara arrives at the red carpet

    Ciara to Host 2019 American Music Awards; Kesha Joins as Performer

    Ciara has been named as host of the 2019 American Music Awards, returning to the show after appearing as a performer alongside Missy Elliott on last year’s telecast. The singer is not a newcomer to hosting duties, having previously presided over the Billboard Music Awards three years ago. Prior to performing her single “Level Up” [...]

  • Career Foreign Service officer George Kent,

    TV Ratings: Fox News, ABC Draw Big Impeachment Numbers

    The first day of the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump drew over 13 million total viewers across the broadcast and news networks combined. Fox News’s coverage from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. drew the highest total viewership of any network, averaging around 2.9 million sets of eyeballs. MSNBC followed in second with 2.7 million [...]

  • Netflix to Amend ‘The Devil Next

    Netflix to Amend 'The Devil Next Door' Documentary After Backlash (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix will amend elements of its documentary series “The Devil Next Door” after the Polish prime minister and others complained to CEO Reed Hastings about the show, which centers on the trial of John Demjanjuk who was accused of being a notorious Ukrainian concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible. Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki [...]

  • Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New

    Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New Head Writer Team

    Stephen Colbert has expanded the circle of people helping to make the ultimate decision about what the funniest things are for him to say each night on CBS’ “Late Show.” Three writers/producers who have been with Colbert for years will get new duties at his late-night program. Ariel Dumas, a longtime writer for Colbert, has [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves poses in the press

    CMA Awards: What Kacey, Maren, Garth, Blake and Dan + Shay Had to Say Backstage

    Backstage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, CMA Awards winners, performers and presenters came back to meet the press after their appearances, including Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay, Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs. Garth Brooks was named entertainer of the year for the seventh time, and during his acceptance speech, he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content