YES Network is working toward offering its service direct-to-consumer by Yankees Opening Day at the end of March, The Post has learned.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. While the aim is to be up and running by the time the Yankees face the Giants on March 30, YES won’t press go unless everything is lined up, so the start date could be moved. In late July, Yankees president and YES chairman Randy Levine said on WFAN’s “Carton & Roberts” that YES would have a DTC product “very soon.”
2. While a DTC offering would allow viewers to bypass cable and satellite providers, YES is working with its current distributors in an effort to make it work for all parties.
3. The price is not decided.
4. NESN jumped into the direct-to-consumer RSN game last year, pricing it at $30 a month for Red Sox and Bruins games, but also added eight tickets to games at Fenway. While the initial price was high enough to make it feel designed to keep people on cable, the tickets really sweetened the offer, which probably didn’t please NESN’s legacy distributors.
5. Where will YES DTC be available? Only in the local rights area, not everywhere. Maybe one day distribution will expand, but in the near term, if you are in the tri-state area where you can get Yankees games on YES, you’ll be able to buy this new product without cable.
Bottom line: The Yankees have the most valued regional sports product in the country. YES also has the Nets, but going direct-to-consumer with Yankees games and more will be a big deal for the business when the product launches.
It is no coincidence that the YES app logo has been part of network game broadcasts in the right hand corner for some time now. The Yankees, beginning last year, started streaming 21 games via Amazon Prime Video. So this would be a potential further expansion into the streaming world.
What about SNY?
From what we understand, SNY is most likely to wait another year before they jump into the direct-to-consumer game. It will happen. They are just taking it a bit slower.
The question that SNY, and each of these networks considering DTC has to ask: Are there a lot of people who must have games that don’t have access? If not, there might not be a need to rush. Eventually, all RSNs, leagues and networks will have it. You want to be a little ahead of the curve, but it is a needle that is being thread.
And MSG Network?
Post Business reporter Josh Kosman reported in November that MSG Network hoped to have its DTC product ready for the second half of the Knicks and Rangers seasons, and it would be priced at $20 to $25 per month.
“We are progressing in the design and development of our direct-to-consumer offering, and remain on track to launch in the second half of the current NBA and NHL seasons,” MSG Network President and CEO Andrea Greenberg told Kosman in November. “So while the media landscape is certainly evolving, we continue to believe in the value of our premium content and our ability to innovate, to drive value for partners, advertisers and viewers alike.”
The issue for CBS with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo is that the broadcast is not fundamentally sound. Until that improves, the calls of the games are going to be crucified by fans and experts alike because they are all over the place and lack cohesion. Romo has come under increasingly harsh criticism, and he’s earned it. What made him a success — his gunslinging approach from the booth — is a weakness now because he is not just off the field and doesn’t study enough to be off-the-cuff anymore. So he spends what seems like half his time gushing over quarterbacks, like Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. We get it, they are really good. Meanwhile, Nantz isn’t on the same page with Romo. For all the passion and skill Nantz has on golf, he lacks it on football. He also can’t volley quick enough and lead Romo to bring some continuity to the broadcast. Unless Nantz and Romo can somehow improve their fundamentals, they will have problems. … Nantz did make me laugh in the post-game. As usual, he came down from the booth to do the trophy presentation. At the end of the game, Nantz dubbed the Super Bowl the “Andy Reid Bowl.” When interviewing Reid, Nantz quoted himself. …
Fox Sports was served a dud of a championship game with the depleted 49ers, but its broadcast got better as the game went along. They were a little slow on whether or not Brock Purdy could return to the game or not, which was quickly the biggest story. With Purdy out with an elbow injury, Fox showed video of him warming up. Sideline reporters, even one as accomplished as Erin Andrews, can only do so much, because the teams decide during games what information they feed, but we needed some analysis about what possibly was going on. To start the second quarter, analyst Greg Olsen did a fine job explaining that the elbow injury could be impacting the feeling in Purdy’s right throwing hand. Purdy did eventually return, but didn’t really throw the ball. Throughout the game, Burkhardt gave Olsen a lot of room to analyze, and, overall, Olsen did well. … Burkhardt grew up an Eagles’ fan in Bloomfield, NJ. In two weeks, he’ll call the Eagles in his first Super Bowl. … Chris Fowler furthered the mockery that was ESPN not sending its top play-by-players and analysts to the Australian Open. During the men’s semifinals, ESPN tried to fool the audience in its open by positioning Fowler and John McEnroe in front of a screen with the Australian Open crowd behind them. To a trained eye, it may have been obvious that they weren’t there, but most people are watching for the sport. After the high temperatures were noted by a sideline reporter in Melbourne, Fowler said it was 35 degrees in Bristol. And the ruse was over. Hopefully, next year, ESPN treats the Australian Open like a grand slam and not a second rate event. …
WFAN plans on replacing Sweeny Murti. It hopes to have someone who can do the post-game and be a pinch-hitter if — when? — John Sterling needs some days off. As is his nature, Sterling, 85 in July, is currently pushing to do all the games, but there is a good chance that he will change his mind when the grind of the season starts to be felt. That is why someone like Justin Shackil could be the choice for FAN. Shackil filled in for Sterling on games last year and did well. He has been working on Yankees-related shows from in-stadium to a Jomboy podcast with David Cone, while also doing boxing work for DAZN. …Mike Francesa’s appearance on Wednesday with his former partner Chris Russo on ESPN’s “First Take” is a win for … Stephen A. Smith. You could argue that Smith has already surpassed “Mike & the Mad Dog” in his career impact, but for Smith, who has toiled in and out of New York radio, where Russo and Francesa have been kings, it has to be pretty sweet to have the duo on his program.
Knicks ratings disaster
The Knicks ratings on MSG Network are down 22 percent compared to this time last year, according to a source with access to the Nielsen ratings. MSG, unlike most other networks, does not release its ratings. This secretiveness is unsurprising for a James Dolan company.
The Knicks are averaging 110,000 viewers per game, which is better than the Nets at 66,000. The Nets are down, but just six percent.
Anyway, with all the drama around the Garden, this may not be a big worry, but that is a significant drop year-over-year. The Garden doesn’t acknowledge the ratings, so if it has a reason for the plunge, it is unknown. It probably doesn’t help that MSG Network remains off Comcast systems, but that was the case last year, too.
The Pac-12 TV deal is something to watch, because, while I think it has some suitors in Amazon, ESPN and Fox Sports, the sense I keep getting is none of them view it as a must-have. So where does the conference find leverage? In theory, it could look outside those three, but others all come with issues — namely exposure — because NBC, CBS and Apple TV+ would want to make it mostly a streaming deal, if they were even interested. Apple, of course, doesn’t have a broadcast network, while NBC has its new prime time Big Ten games starting in the fall and Notre Dame home games in the afternoon. And CBS has afternoon Big Ten on broadcast. Maybe there is an opening for a Saturday night Pac-12 schedule on broadcast TV, but it doesn’t feel like a match; at least not for big money.
The idea of Amazon Prime Video taking on the tonnage of the Pac-12 may not fully line up unless it is at the right price. Amazon doesn’t have a linear lineup to fill out, so it doesn’t need programming. ESPN and Fox Sports do, but between their other deals (ESPN with the SEC, ACC and Big 12, and Fox Sports with the Big Ten and the Big 12), they don’t necessarily need the extra games the Pac-12 would provide. With the economy in question, no one is looking to break the bank.
Amazon did well with Thursday Night Football, but, beyond the obvious fact that the NFL is a far different animal than the Pac-12, TNF also is a standalone game. Pac-12 matchups are in competition with endless other college games.
There are going to be deals to be made for the Pac-12, but will they be strong enough to stave off more realignment; especially with the Big 12’s agreement with ESPN allowing for further payments if Power 5 schools are added? The Pac-12 should be able to get close to the nearly $32 million per school that the Big 12 received, but the Pac-12 will have to realize that is more the comp, not the Big Ten.
On top of all of this, the Pac-12 may owe Comcast $50 million for overcharging. Not good.