Yankee Global Enterprises, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Amazon have acquired the YES Network from Walt Disney for $3.47 billion. RedBird Capital, Blackstone and Mubadala Capital made equity investments in the transaction. YES is a regional sports network, broadcasting games, programs and specialty content for the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Yankee Global Enterprises, with strategic partners Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), today announced the purchase of the YES Network (“YES”) from The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), acquiring the 80 percent of the YES Network not already held by Yankee Global Enterprises at a total enterprise value of $3.47 billion. Additional equity investments were provided by RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, and Mubadala Capital.
The YES Network is the country’s most-watched regional sports network (RSN), broadcasting games, programs and specialty content for the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
Since its launch in 2002, the YES Network has earned 118 Emmy Awards and has consistently been ranked as one of the most valuable sports business brands in the world. In addition to televising 128 regular season Yankees games per season, the YES Network also airs pre-and postgame shows; Yankeeography, the Emmy award-winning biography series on past and present Yankees greats; and Yankees Magazine, the weekly magazine show consisting of Yankees highlights, player profiles, behind-the-scenes features and interviews.
The new strategic partnership leverages the expertise and market reach of three highly successful companies – Yankee Global Enterprises, one of the world’s leading sports brands; Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and leading provider of local sports and news; and Amazon, the innovative, multinational technology company. The three companies will work together to enhance the network and position it strategically to continue its leadership in sports broadcasting across all forms of distribution. Jon Litner will remain in his existing role as President of the YES Network.
Yankee Global Enterprises will contribute its excellence in developing, producing and marketing sports content that is compelling for fans globally. Sinclair, which is the owner of 22 RSN brands and the Tennis Channel, as well as the owner, operator, and service provider to 191 television stations in 89 markets, will work with the YES team management to manage traditional and virtual distribution relationships.
“This transaction brings the YES Network and all of its popular programming even closer to the organization that inspired its very development,” said Hal Steinbrenner, CEO, Yankee Global Enterprises. “Along with our partners, we look forward to greatly expanding the way that sports content is delivered and consumed by fans everywhere.”
“Throughout its nearly two-decades on-air, the YES Network has set the gold standard for regional sports coverage,” said Randy Levine, President, New York Yankees. “We look forward to working with our strategic partners and our investors – RedBird Capital, Blackstone and Mubadala Capital – to expand the network in innovative and exciting ways.”
“There are very few sports brands in the world as great as the New York Yankees that offer impressive reach and recognition,” said Chris Ripley, President and CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group. “We look forward to working with our partners to develop and deliver top-notch play action and sports programming for the fans.”
The partnership received equity investments from three leading financial investors: RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, and Mubadala Capital.
“The Yankees have assembled a tremendous ownership group to steward YES as the premier regional sports network in the country,” said Gerry Cardinale, Managing Partner of RedBird Capital. “It has been a privilege to work with the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family for almost two decades since we created the YES Network back in 2001. We are excited to continue this partnership and to be part of this team.”
Todd Hirsch, a Senior Managing Director in Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, said, “The YES Network is a first-class brand in the sports media industry – much like the iconic team that inspired its creation. It has unrivaled and in-demand content that fans love, and we’re excited about the opportunity to partner with this exceptional investor group to help fuel its continued success moving forward.”
“The opportunity to invest in the YES Network as part of this consortium is a natural extension of our relationship with the Yankees organization,” said Hani Barhoush, Head of Mubadala Capital. “It is also squarely in-line with our private equity strategy and our history and track record of identifying high quality content assets managed by top quality management teams and supported by strong ownership groups.”
About the YES Network
The YES Network, the most-watched regional sports network in the country in 14 of the past 16 years, owns the exclusive local TV rights of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, Major League Soccer’s New York City FC and the WNBA’s New York Liberty. YES, which has earned 118 Emmy Awards since its 2002 launch, also televises original biography, interview and magazine programs, college sports and Manchester City soccer. YES has made the list of Forbes’ top 10 most valuable sports business brands in the world for eight straight years.
About Sinclair Broadcast Group
Sinclair is a diversified media company and leading provider of local sports and news. Including YES, the Company owns and/or operates 23 regional sports network brands; owns, operates and/or provides services to 191 television stations in 89 markets; is a leading local news provider in the country; owns multiple national networks; and has TV stations affiliated with all the major broadcast networks. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multichannel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
About RedBird Capital Partners
RedBird Capital Partners is a principal investment firm which provides flexible, long-term capital to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Based in New York and Dallas, RedBird seeks investment opportunities in growth-oriented private companies in which its capital, investor network and strategic relationships enable business owners to achieve their corporate objectives. Founded by former Goldman Sachs Partner Gerald Cardinale in 2014, RedBird has invested and/or led $2.5 billion of equity to support its entrepreneur-led platforms, connecting patient capital with business founders to help them outperform operationally, financially and strategically. For more information, please go to www.redbirdcap.com
About Blackstone & Blackstone Tactical Opportunities
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses, with $545 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.
Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.
Tactical Opportunities (Tac Opps) is Blackstone’s opportunistic investment platform. The Tac Opps team invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities. As part of the strategy, the team leverages the intellectual capital across Blackstone’s various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions.
About Mubadala Capital
Mubadala Capital was established in 2011 as the financial investment arm of Mubadala, operating six integrated businesses focused on various asset classes and geographies that include private equity, public equities, credit, venture, sovereign investment partnerships and Brazil. The group invests globally across the capital structure in both public and private securities, whether directly or through third-party managed funds. In addition to managing its own balance sheet investments, Mubadala Capital manages third party capital on behalf of institutional investors in three of its businesses, including through three private equity funds and two early stage venture funds. Mubadala Capital is based in the Abu Dhabi Global Market.