Since November 18 of last year, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES Network) has been unavailable to customers of the cable TV provider Comcast.
According to David Lieberman of deadline.com, the YES network requested a 30 percent increase in its fee to be carried by cable providers, and Comcast has refused to give into the increase, which it claims is unjustified for a regional sports network that has a relatively lower viewership among customers. YES fired back, claiming that it is the most-watched regional sports network in the country, and that it has the Nielsen ratings to prove it.
Comcast’s reluctance to pay remains, however, since YES is already the most expensive regional sports network to carry in America. Increasing the fee seems unfounded to Comcast.
This year, opening day of the MLB season snuck up on me. It could just be the fact that I woke up to snow on the morning of opening day. By opening day, it’s usually a bit warmer outside. But I don’t think that’s the reason. I happen to be a Yankee fan who has Comcast, and I never really knew how much I relied on the YES network to remind me that the boys of summer are returning. That is, until the network was unavailable.
Usually, I start watching spring training games and preseason reports once they begin. Other news media cover the Yankees, but during the preseason, the channel with the word “Yankees” in its title is usually the source with the most detailed and frequent coverage of the Bronx Bombers.
Other television stations like FOX, ESPN, WPIX 11, Fox Sports 1 and the MLB Network televise Yankees games, but YES broadcasts so many games that any die-hard fan without YES would see only a fraction of the games. Of the 162 games in the regular season, only 40 games will appear on a channel other than YES. This means that Comcast subscribers will not be able to watch just over three-quarters of the regular season. Fans can also listen to every game on the radio on either WFAN 660 or 101.9 FM. Yankees radio personalities John Sterling and Susan Waldman are great, but listening on the radio just isn’t the same as watching the games on TV.
Perhaps this network debacle isn’t as big of a deal to others as it is to me. I grew up watching YES and may have taken for granted the fact that if I wanted to watch my favorite baseball team on any given night, I could. This situation demonstrates how dealings among media executives have power over the way fans follow their favorite teams.
I guess you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Hopefully YES returns, and in a hurry. Comcast and YES may be playing hardball, but in the long run, the Yankee fans of the area who subscribe to Comcast are the ones who are striking out.ntrance into the league: a slam dunk.