The New York Yankees are reportedly in talks to buy the remaining 80% interest in regional sports channel YES Network from 21st Century Fox, and have been talking to potential backers to help finance the estimated $4 billion price tag, according to a report in the New York Post.
Fox agreed to sell its 22 RSNs, including YES, in July to The Walt Disney Co. as part of a larger deal valued at $71.3 billion. But one of the regulatory conditions on the deal was that Disney agreed to divest of the RSNs within 90 days after closing the larger transaction. The larger Fox-Disney deal is expected to close in the first half of next year.
Books on the RSNs went out in October, according to reports, and interested parties were said to include Fox itself, tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Group, private equity firms and even rapper and entrepreneur Ice Cube. It has long been speculated that the Yankees would move to buy the remaining interest in YES. The Yankees, which own 20% of the channel, have had the right of first refusal in the event of a YES sale ever since Fox increased its ownership stake in the network from 49% to 80% in 2014. According to some estimates, YES is worth about $4 billion, which would mean the team would need to attract several partners to finance a deal.
According to the Post, the Yankees are willing to divvy up ownership of the network among several different parties.
Fox declined comment.