SBJ/March 19 - 25, 2007/This Weeks News

YES Net interactive streamlined for 2007

Usage stats for last year’s interactive features for New York Yankees games on the YES Network were good enough for the network to roll it out again this year. But officials concluded that the best way to improve it was to keep it simple.

The regional sports network launched an exclusive interactive service last July free to DirecTV subscribers, which will return this year. The network said it is willing to create a similar service with New York-area cable operators, but so far none have signed up and nothing is imminent.

“Last year, we threw the entire kitchen sink out to the viewers,” said Eric Shanks, DirecTV’s executive vice president of entertainment, referencing the volume of statistical information that was available to viewers. “At the end of the year, we got the usage back and realized that people found it a little bit difficult to use with so much information there.”

Last year, viewers were bogged down by the amount of statistics offered, which included the top 10 league leaders and career stats for every player.

YES is shelving that “back of the baseball card” approach this year for statistics that are applicable to the game being played, YES Network COO Ray Hopkins said. YES is rolling out a new service that gives pitching stats down to total pitches, balls and strikes.

Another new feature is a “Rival Alert” pop-up that gives viewers real-time scoring updates to one other game that night. “It might as well be called the Boston alert,” Hopkins said, since it will focus on Red Sox games for the first few months of the  season.

Another noticeable change is coming with Bonus Cam, which was one of the most popular parts of the service. Last year, the Bonus Cam shots, which purport to show the second most important pictures during the game, was featured as a split screen. This season, it will be presented much smaller, as a picture-in-picture feature.

Statistics for pitchers and hitters this season
will focus on the game being played.

Last season, 65 percent of the service’s users accessed the Bonus Cam, which was available only for Yankees home games, “but people weren’t sticking with it for any length of time,” Hopkins said.

This season, it will be available for all 127 Yankees games televised by YES.

Some other stats:

42 percent of DirecTV viewers with access to the application used it at least once per week from the July 25 launch to the end of the regular season.

Of those, 82 percent used the interactive features more than once per telecast.

43 percent used them more than six times per game.

25 percent used them more than 11 times per game.

The most popular feature was the out-of-town scoreboard, which more than 35 percent of viewers accessed.

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