The Walt Disney Company is the current owner of most of 21st Century Fox assets and is currently managing the current deal as part of the its plan to sell the YES Network along with 21 other regional sports networks. The selling of these networks was a condition of the Justice Department’s approval of Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of the 21st Century Fox assets last summer.
The YES network was born out of a partnership struck in 1999 between the Yankees and the Nets basketball Franchise. Led by President Randy L. Levine since 2000 and formally took over the project in 2004 and has sold 49 percent stake to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in 2012. A second deal in 2014 gave the Murdoch company control and left the Yankees with a 20 percent stake.
Media rights to sports franchises has declined from traditional cable systems as fewer people are willing to pay for traditional TV. Currently this is a large upside in sports from streaming. Amazon owning a piece of the YES Network could be a good addition to its Prime Program, which could add more revenue.
Amazon currently streams “Thursday Night Football” on Prime, paying the NFL $50 million for one season. The company renewed that agreement in April for two more years in a deal worth $130 million. Currently, The YES Network along with other sports networks have the rights to show games online through the 2019 season but is unclear how the rights will be controlled moving forward.
Disney’s acquisition has not formally closed yet. Once closed, the company has 90 days after the merger to sell the sports channels, which includes the YES network.
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