In-Market Streaming Packages Not Seen as a Replacement for Dealing with MLB's Blackout Policy
Major League Baseball announced today it will launch this July a landmark pair of in-market subscription products, including Yankees on YES, to deliver live games online within their respective home broadcast territories. Upon launch, these will be the only live in-market streaming products in professional sports to include games with local broadcast television deals.
“These agreements are an important part of our global effort to give fans greater access to our game,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “It is important that fans in local markets have portable flexibility to stay connected to their favorite team if they can’t be at the ballpark, and I believe this represents a significant step in that direction.
MLB Advanced Media, LP (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, has entered into a partnership with the YES Network and Cablevision to provide eligible Cablevision customers throughout the Yankees home broadcasting territory with access to YES Network Yankees telecasts live on their computers. The offering, which will be implemented through an authentication process managed by Cablevision and MLBAM, will be available exclusively to Cablevision customers who subscribe to the Family Cable (expanded basic) level of television service and Optimum Online.
The Yankees on YES package, available for a one-time fee of $49.95 for the remainder of the season or $19.95 for any 30-day period, is scheduled to launch on Wednesday, July 8 at 8:00 p.m. (EDT) with the YES Network’s Yankees-Twins broadcast. Beginning immediately, eligible Cablevision subscribers can review FAQs for the product and purchase Yankees on YES at Yankees.com, YESNetwork.com and Optimum.net. Major League Baseball became the first professional sports league to make every game available online for out-of-market fans in 2003 and since that time has delivered over 250 million live video streams. It now is also the first to make this number of live games available online for fans living in a home team territory such as the Yankees.
Game features, such as MLB.TV's fantasy tracker will not be available through the Cablevision/YES Network package.
A second in-market live game streaming product is expected to be announced the week of June 29. While baseball did not announce via conference call which market that might be, sources have said that it is likely in the Boston/New England market with NESN and the Red Sox.
As for how this landmark development sits against the blackout policy in place with MLB's online out-of-market package, MLB.TV, and television package, MLB Extra Innings, MLB president Bob DuPuy said that it should not be considered a substitution. MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman said that the blackout issue is MLB.com's number one customer service question.
Issues surrounding clubs that do not have a majority or minority ownership stake in RSNs, such as the Yankees with YES, and possibly the Red Sox with NESN, Bob Bowman said that deals could be reached to allow for in-market streaming, but that they would be structured differently.
As to whether small revenue making clubs will find this news one more reason to ask for constraints on higher revenue making clubs that can tap into in-market streaming agreements has not yet been voiced. Even if clubs will eventually be able to tap into such agreements, the Yankees, and possibly Red Sox, will get a jump on these new revenues before others do.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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