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Amazon Wants to Stream the Yankees

The Yankees’ television network, YES, is up for sale and the tech giant wants in

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March 11, 2019

In late 2017, Disney and Fox announced a merger, a $52.4B deal where Disney acquired most of Fox's entertainment divisions. However, in order to comply with anti-monopoly law—Disney owns ESPN—the agreement stipulated that Disney had to sell off Fox's 22 regional sports networks, which includes the Yankees' gigantic network YES. (Fox acquired the formerly team-owned YES for $3.9B in 2014). While there's been plenty of speculation that the Yankees will try to buy a part of the network back, Amazon has thrown its hat into the ring as well.

 

While Amazon has dipped their toes into broadcast rights, partnering on a Thursday Night Football broadcast with the NFL, acquiring a rights deal with the Yankees would be a monumental announcement. Amazon has more cash than traditional cable providers, providers who will likely be competitors in any kind of auction. Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the Yankees and Amazon planned to partner on a bid, a development that more or less ensures MLB approval. 

However, this process will take a while to sort out. This RSN situation is Major League Baseball's best opportunity to secure lucrative rights deals for its teams, deals that could be considered on par with the current NFL and NBA agreements. There's a good deal of pressure on the MLB to make this count: This sort of financial windfall could potentially help ease rising labor tensions between players and the league. The Yankees are arguably the league's premier franchise, and anything that might cloud access to their broadcasts could have repercussions league-wide.

 

On the other side, Amazon Prime wants to beef up its sports offerings in order to compete with what Disney's much-hyped streaming service Disney+ might offer. It's hard to imagine a cable company coming up with a bigger offer than what Amazon could potentially bid, but MLB has a ton of incentive to wait for the best (read: highest) possible offer. 

 

Disney and Fox's merger hasn't officially closed yet—after it does, they have 90 days to sell the RSNs. So, it'll get pretty insane around then. If you're wondering might happen to your favorite team, it might be time to align your concerns and focus on your team getting the best deal possible

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