With Yankees pitchers and catchers set to report for spring training on Feb. 18, baseball fans and regional sports programmers in the Northeast are getting nervous.
The Fox-owned YES Network, which is the exclusive regional sports home for the New York Yankees, has been blacked out on Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) since November. And no progress has been made on a carriage renewal agreement since the blackout started.
Comcast said earlier that it had broken down viewership for the 900,000 customers in Northern New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania who received YES. The audience, the MSO said, does not justify what it claims are demands by the regional sports network of $5 to $6 per subscriber.
Comcast said 90 percent of those 900,000 viewers didn't even watch 25 percent of the 130 Yankees games broadcasts on YES last season.
"Whatever mythical test that Comcast is applying to determine whether the Yankees or YES are worth it ... if they are not worth it, then what does that say about the Mets and SNY and about the Phillies, and Comcast Philadelphia?," an unidentified YES executive told NJ Advance.
YES claims that other operators in the region -- Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) are among them -- pay a rate comparable to what it's charging Comcast. YES also says it's the No. 1 watched RSN in the country.
For now, Comcast probably has little incentive to work at the bargaining table. YES' current in-season team, the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, are second to last in the Eastern Conference with a miserable 11-28 record.
- read NJ Advance story
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