Comcast dropping YES is a 'gutless money grab,' Yankees president says

The regional sports carriage battle between Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and the YES Network has grown to include one of the channel's key programming constituents, with New York Yankees President Randy Levine taking a shot at the MSO. 

"This amounts to nothing more than a money grab," Levine told the New York Daily News. "It's a typical gutless act by a cable carrier seeking to promote its own self-interest."

YES, owned by 21st Centry Fox, is the exclusive RSN home of the Yankees and NBA's Brooklyn Nets. Its carriage agreement with Comcast expired in February, but the channel had remained on the program guide of the No. 1 cable company in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania thanks to a series of extensions. However, Comcast dropped YES last week.

In dropping YES, Comcast employed a strategy similar to what DirecTV (NYSE: T) and other rival operators have executed in their own carriage battle with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) over Dodgers channel TWC SportsNet LA. DirecTV has said that not enough viewers are watching the Dodgers to justify the costs of the channel. 

"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," Comcast said last week in a statement.

Comcast dropped the channel with the Yankees more than two months away from beginning spring training for next season, and with the Nets off to a miserable 3-11 start. Comcast told the Daily News that it has a deal in principle, but is saving millions of dollars by not carrying YES during the Yankees' offseason. 

For more:
- read this New York Daily News story
- read this story

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