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Disney sells YES Network to Yankees, Sinclair, Amazon

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Walt Disney Company says it's sold its 80% stake in the YES (Yankee Entertainment and Sports) Network for a deal valued at $3.47 billion.

Why it matters: The YES Network is considered one of the most valuable and most-watched regional sports networks. Its sale will boost Sinclair's growing foothold in regional sports and will give Amazon an entryway into local sports broadcast.

Details: Disney's stake is being sold to an investment groups that includes Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Yankee Global Enterprises, the parent company of the New York Yankees.

  • Sinclair says it has acquired 20% of the network via its subsidiary Diamond Sports Group for about $346 million.
  • Yankee Global Enterprises will be the majority owner with a 26% stake in the company. Amazon will receive roughly a 15% stake in the company, per Deadline.
  • Other investors include RedBird Capital, funds managed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, and Mubadala Capital, according to a press release.

Between the lines: Disney agreed to sell off all 22 Fox regional sports networks as part of its approval from the Justice Department to OK its 21st Century Fox deal. YES Network is part of that divestiture.

  • Sinclair just last week closed a $9.6 acquisition of Disney's 21 other regional sports networks. In a statement, Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley said that with this investment, "we will have 23 RSN brands, including Marquee with the iconic Chicago Cubs."

The big picture: The value of RSNs has been difficult to measure over the past few years. RSNs have been able to command strong licensing fees due to their exclusive sports rights, but have seen viewership declines due to more people ditching traditional television packages for digital alternatives.

Go deeper... Report: Sinclair clinches deal for Disney's regional sports networks