Amazon to get a stake in YES network
On March 8, Amazon (AMZN) along with Blackstone (BX) and Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) agreed to partner with the New York Yankees to buy Walt Disney’s (DIS) 80% stake in YES network for about $3.5 billion. The YES sale will involve Disney’s regional sports networks (or RSNs), which the company needs to sell to get US approval to buy 21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) assets. However, the Yankees, which hold a 20% stake in YES, plan to buy back the YES network after Disney completes the Fox acquisition deal. The deal is expected to close by next month.
Amazon’s interest in sports programming
Amazon, like its peers Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google and Facebook (FB), has been expanding into sports programming and has thus made several small sports deals recently. The company has already gained rights to stream NFL (National Football League) and English Premier League matches. Therefore, the acquisition of Disney’s YES network is expected to help bolster Amazon’s presence in the sports business and is likely to give Amazon rights to stream some of the Yankees games in designated markets. The content could drive consumers to the company’s Prime membership program. Amazon already streams some live NFL games on Prime Video.
Amazon Prime members enjoy exclusive discounts, free delivery of items purchased online, video streaming, ad-free music, and other digital entertainment services for an annual fee of $119. At the end of 2018, Amazon Prime members in the US crossed 100 million members, up from 54 million members in 2015.