Flash back to the minute details of the ongoing (but hopefully soon-to-conclude) Disney acquisition of media assets from Fox. The epic deal was first seen with caution by antitrust regulators. Ultimately Disney got a pass from the US government by agreeing to divest itself of 22 regional sports networks included in the initial asset package, to avoid antitrust charges due to Disney ownership of ESPN.
The Business Journals reports that before last weekend, Disney has entered into an agreement with the New York Yankees MLB team regarding the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network. YES Network is one of the 22 regional sports networks (RSN) that the House of Mouse must sell off as part of the conditions to gain regulatory approval for the rest of its FOX media acquisitions.
Launched in 2002, YES Network primarily broadcasts games of the NY Yankees, NYC FC of Major League Soccer and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, alongside other sports-related programs and documentaries. In 2012 it was acquired by Fox, and got included in their Disney deal since 2017. Because Disney already has ESPN, regulators required them to lose YES and the other Fox RSNs, with the company beginning to look for potential buyers.
Fox Business adds that the valuation of YES Network for repurchase by the Yankees is at $3.5 billion. Several companies are also part of the deal, receiving minority shares to the network: Sinclair Broadcast Group, Amazon and Blackstone Media Group.
The Department of Justice mandates that Disney has 90 days to find buyers for all its remaining RSNs in the Fox portfolio. This explains their low-billion-dollar offers like with YES Network, to encourage buyers. The closing of the Disney-Fox deal is described to be imminent.