Fox to Secure Controlling Stake in YES Network

Conglomerate to take an 80 percent interest in Yankees’ home RSN

21st Century Fox on Friday announced it would take a controlling stake in YES Network, upping its of Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network, raising its ownership position in the RSN to 80 percent.

The media conglomerate originally assumed a 49 percent stake in YES in November 2012, approximately eight months before News Corp. split its television and studio division from its publishing empire.

At the time, analysts estimated the value of the minority stake at around $3.4 billion. News Corp. was given the option to purchase as much as four-fifths of YES within three years after the deal closed, but the split helped accelerate the process. 

While financial terms were not disclosed, 21st Century Fox said that Yankee Global Enterprises will hold onto the remaining 20 percent stake in YES Network. Tracy Dolgin, a former News Corp. higher-up—among his many accomplishments, he was a co-founder of Fox Sports—will remain president and CEO of YES.

Per Needham Insights estimates, YES Network commands an average carriage fee of $3.20 per subscriber per month. All told, the network generates $468.5 million in annual affiliate revenue, plus another $73 million in ad sales.

The deal gives Fox control over the most-watched, most-valuable RSN in the country, thanks in large part to YES Net’s slate of 128 live New York Yankees telecasts. The network also carries live coverage of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

YES executives will continue to manage the network’s programming, while Fox will handle the business side of the operations. 

The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter. Once formalized, the deal ends YES Net’s association with Goldman Sachs and NJ Holdings, each of which had owned 12 percent of the RSN.