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News Corporation to acquire equity stake in YES

News Corporation and Yankees Global Enterprises announced an agreement on Tuesday that calls for News Corporation to acquire a 49 percent equity stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES).

The YES Network broadcasts exclusive live television coverage of Yankees baseball and Nets basketball, as well as other local and national sports programming. In addition, the network announced an agreement to keep Yankees baseball on YES through 2042.

"This transaction underscores the great value we and our partners created in establishing the YES Network and sets the network on the path for even greater achievements in the future," Hal Steinbrenner, chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, said in a statement. "We are excited to have News Corporation as a partner. Its stature and acumen in sports broadcasting on a global scale is unmatched. We look forward to the many opportunities for growth and development that this investment by News Corporation will bring to YES. The Steinbrenner family expects to have a continuing, long-term ownership stake in the YES Network, and we will continue our yearly commitment of fielding a championship caliber team for decades to come."

The media rights agreement is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball, and the investment is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, according to a team release. According to the release, after three years, News Corporation can acquire an additional stake in the network that could bring its ownership up to 80 percent.

YES currently shows live Yankees and Nets games to approximately 9 million households in the teams' television territory in the New York area.

"We've long been a believer in the unique appeal of sports entertainment," James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, said in a statement. "Partnering upstream with rights holders is even more important today in the dynamic media marketplace in which we compete. This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance News Corporation's industry-leading portfolio of sports properties, while also strategically re-entering the New York market. The YES Network represents the gold standard for regional sports networks and is a pioneer in sports media. We look forward to working with Yankee Global Enterprises, the network's management team, and all of our partners to build on a decade of success and take the YES Network to even greater heights."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.
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