New York Yankees Attempting to Launch YES Network Streaming Service by Opening Day
The streaming market may be crowded in the United States, but no market is too crowded for the New York Yankees. According to the New York Post's Andrew Marchand, he team is moving toward offering a direct-to-consumer streaming option in conjunction with YES Network, the regional sports network (RSN) that focuses on providing live Yankee games and other New York sports events.
There are few details about the service available as of yet, but Yankee team officials hope to have it up and running by the time Opening Day rolls around on March 30. The service will not be available to Yankees fans outside the broadcast range of YES Network initially, although that could change in the future.
The price for such a service has not yet been decided. YES Network must first appease cable and satellite providers that carry it, since the DTC offering would allow users in the New York market to bypass expensive pay-TV sources and go straight to the new platform to stream games.
Last July, in an interview, Yankees President Randy Levine said: “There is always going to be a balance between digital or streaming, and linear, and you have to provide coverage for all of your fan base. Younger fans tend to stream. You’re going to see a direct-to-consumer package come out from YES, very very soon.”
Marchand did point out the service could be priced similarly to the DTC service made available by NESN in 2022. That service costs $30 per month and features both Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins games, and it came with eight tickets to live Red Sox games in Fenway Park as a sweetener for subscribers.
The offering of DTC services is a somewhat novel approach for these RSNs, and it may be the next step toward wider streaming offerings of sports. MLB recently hired former FOX and Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) executive Billy Chambers to be its first-ever Executive Vice President of Local Media, in an effort to expand coverage of teams in their local markets.
Chambers’ ultimate goal may be to launch an in-market streaming service for every team, but a team-by-team rollout might be the best way for the league to get its feet wet first. The Yankees are one of the most recognizable brands not only in baseball, but in all of sports, so the team’s experiment with DTC streaming might go a long way toward convincing the league that an in-market service is viable. MLB already has an out-of-market games service in MLB.TV.
YES Network is partially-owned by Sinclair and Amazon, as well as the Yankees. Bally Sports and its parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group have been desperate to snag the rights to stream more MLB games, but the league has been increasingly skeptical of Bally Sports and its ability to provide a solid return-on-investment. Bally Sports could be headed for bankruptcy, leading some to speculate that its MLB rights might head back to broadcast TV soon.
The issues between MLB and Sinclair though shouldn’t trouble Yankees fans, who own just a small part of YES Network. Such fans within range of YES Network will have a new way to stream their favorite team this season, without having to go through a pricey cable or satellite company.