YES Network Tonight Could Go Dark On Comcast Systems In Northeast
YES Network could go dark at midnight tonight on Comcast systems in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania following an impasse in negotiations between Comcast and Fox Sports, which owns YES. The deal actually expired several months ago during the early stages of the Yankees season. The two sides reached a series of temporary extensions during the baseball season.
The negotiating leverage now, though, favors Comcast. The Yankees season ended in October, and the Nets have stumbled to a 1-7 start. Nets ratings in the N.Y. market so far this season have been tiny. The team is averaging a 0.27 rating through the first two weeks of the season. By comparison, the crosstown rival Knicks are averaging a 1.71 rating on MSG Network for the same time period.
Comcast confirmed that its carriage deal with YES expires tonight. Comcast’s said viewership, even during baseball season, isn’t high. "YES Network carried approximately 130 baseball games this past season and well over 90 percent of our 900,000 plus customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those games during the season, even while the Yankees were in the hunt for a playoff berth. Viewership of the network in the baseball offseason is even lower. Fox and the Yankees are asking all of our customers to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years to continue receiving the channel. The price Fox and the Yankees are requiring from our customers is not acceptable given the network’s minimal viewership, which is why we have decided we can no longer justify continuing to carry the Network. YES simply does not present an appropriate price-value proposition for our customers.”
The net is taking an aggressive public stance.
The statement continues, “YES and Comcast reached an agreement in principle on the key points of a new contract many months ago, and YES continued to operate in good faith under that arrangement through the entire Yankees season and into the Nets season. Unfortunately, because YES will not yield to Comcast’s demands for special treatment and anti-competitive terms, Comcast has decided to drop YES Network and its coverage of the NY Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.”
This marks the net’s first significant carriage negotiation since 21st Century Fox took majority control of YES in March, though Fox has negotiated carriage deals for the network before then. Earlier this fall, YES signed a deal with the Nets that increased its rights fee to around $40M per year starting next season and running deep into the next decade. The Scranton Times Tribune was the first to report on the dispute, saying that Comcast sent notices that it may drop YES to the municipal office in Scranton.