Back in March, the New York Yankees (along with Amazon and Sinclair) announced they had plans to re-purchase YES Network from Disney, who needed to sell off all of the Fox Sports’ RSNs (of which YES was included) as part of their acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
Back in November, the Yankees were first tied to purchasing the network for “fair market value,” which was expected to be around $5 billion. News Corp first acquired a 49% chunk of YES back in 2012, increasing their stake to 80% in 2014. In the end, the Yankees and their partners bought it back as part of a $3.5 billion deal.
Given the companies involved in the deal, there was plenty of speculation about how YES would be distributed and what new bells and whistles might be included. Would Yankees games be broadcast across the country over Sinclair stations? Would YES content end up being available as an Amazon Prime offering? Would streaming take place on a YES app, a Sinclair app, an Amazon app, or something else entirely?
One medium that might not have been top of mind for consumers was radio. However, according to Andrew Marchand at the New York Post, that’s where the Yankees are looking as they expand the reach of YES across platforms. Per Marchand, “the Yankees and the YES Network are exploring developing YES Radio while leveraging its current content and creating new shows in the beginning of a series of moves that could have huge implications not only locally, but on the future of sports media.” That’s a pretty big and bold claim, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering it’s the Yankees, but it remains fairly unclear exactly what that means.
Marchand did note that YES and SiriusXM have already held discussions about a dedicated space on their satellite service for the channel. Of course, you’d have to imagine Amazon will play a role in their online offerings as well.
The news also sends a warning bell about The New York Yankees Radio Network and all of its partners and affiliates. The Entercom-owned radio network currently broadcasts to 52 stations across 14 states as well as XM Satellite Radio for every home game. WFAN signed a deal with the club to become their flagship radio station in 2013. That deal was set for ten years, though it’s unclear what the opt-out language (if any) might be for the franchise. Chances are, the end of the deal in 2023 actually lines up well for the creation of YES Radio.
Whatever happens with YES Radio, it’s sure to be just the beginning as the Yankees attempt to amass total control over their broadcasting rights and how their content is distributed. Given the power players involved, pretty soon you won’t be able to escape Yankee games even if you try.