SPORTS MEDIA INSIDERS WEIGH IN ON YANKEES LAUNCHING LIVE IN-MARKET STREAMING
By Preston Bounds, Staff Writer
|Yankees To Debut Live In-Market Streaming
With Tonight's Game Against Twins
The Yankees will debut their local live Web streaming offering with tonight's away game against the Twins at 8:00pm ET. The "Yankees on YES" package is available to Cablevision subscribers for $49.95 for the season or $19.95 a month. The in-market streaming represents the first in major pro sports in which local TV rights are also involved. MLB.com Senior VP/Corporate Communications Matthew Gould noted that MLB.tv, now with about half a million subs, did not have a huge influx of subscribers when it debuted in '02. Gould: "We expect it to take time to educate the market."
Other industry experts were asked to weigh in on this landmark deal via e-mail:
Q: What do you think the long-term impact and significance of this offer will be on the business of sports?
Career Sports & Entertainment President of Media & Marketing Mark Lazarus: "The impact will be the acceleration of conjoined rights negotiations and the further planning by leagues and teams to make sure each form of distribution available today and into the future are captured in contracts to be monetized."
Former SI Digital President Jeff Price: "This deal is a critical first step in breaking down the barriers to unlock the potential of streaming rights. MLB, its teams, regional sports networks and MSO's should all get tremendous learnings from the biggest market in baseball. That said, I think the rubber really hits the road when streaming (and VOD and live in-market mobile rights) become an obstacle in a team and RSN getting their next deal done - much easier to deal with the 50-50 revenue parameters in an add-on situation like this one. To use a baseball analogy, we're in just the top of the first inning on this issue."
SportsFanLive.com and AthleteTweets.com Founder & CEO David Katz: "I think more leagues, teams and networks are now going to have to take a look at this issue. These rights will no longer be 'frozen.' This may very well become a seminal term in all TV deals going forward. Some leagues will have the leverage to address this issue on their terms, others will not. Over the next five years the drama in the boardroom may be as interesting as the drama on the field."
LHB Sports Entertainment & Media Principal Lee Berke: "This offer will be another milestone in the transformation of teams and leagues into content providers. Its true impact will be felt several years down the road as local streaming eventually gains wider distribution and traction, eventually taking its place alongside the arsenal of new and traditional media platforms that sports properties utilize to deliver content."
Blogger Benjamin Kabak of River Avenue Blues: "Long-term, I expect the in-market streams to have a significant impact on sports and the cable business in general. With the flexibility to follow the game live online anywhere, fans will be more attached to and focused on their teams. While this first deal encompasses only those who already subscribe to YES via cable, it allows for the possibility in the future that those without cable or a TV can still subscribe to an MLB.tv offering in market. At that point, sports viewing will undergo a true revolution."
Q: Do you support the local streaming deal that the Yankees are launching today?
Lazarus: "It is inevitable. I believe that RSNs and cable operators need to work towards a solution that they are part of, in order to not have their audiences splintered away a little at a time."
Katz: "The primary mission for every sports league and rights holder should be focused on servicing the fan. The fans needs are evolving, and for too long, old models prevented the ubiquitious access that fans will demand. At the end of the day, fans should be able to consume content for their favorite teams on every platform, whether it is free or ad supported. This is a smart deal because it addresses the needs of fans while aligning the interests of key stakeholders. At best, this grows the overall pie. At worst, this provides invaluable research."
Berke:"The Yankees deal is an important step but probably not the only one. Looking back, business models were introduced for previous 'new media' platforms such as radio, broadcast television, cable and satellite. Eventually, the marketplace provided feedback and these models were modified as each new medium eventually became more traditional and successful. My guess is that the same process will take place with local streaming."
Kabak: "In my mind, there's absolutely no reason to oppose this deal. It allows more Yankee fans to watch the game and brings live in-market streaming to the largest media market in baseball. I know a lot of Yankee fans --including me -- who have cable only to watch Yankee games, and I hope this deal is a sign of things to come."