Comcast unmoved by Yankees channel ad blitz, says Yes Network needs to get 'realistic'

Yes Network's ad blitz, messaging Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) customers to switch to another pay-TV provider, has been met with resistance by the MSO, which has fired back saying that it won't return to the bargaining table with the Fox-owned regional sports network (RSN) until it comes up with "realistic" carriage-price demands.

According to Comcast, Yes Network is demanding in excess of a 30 percent price increase "for a network that has very low viewership among our customers and which is already the most expensive [regional sports network] in the country.

"We are not the only distributor who has refused to agree to pay Yes' exorbitant fees," Comcast added in a statement obtained by Deadline Hollywood. "For example, Dish also does not carry Yes."

For its part, Yes called the latter assertion a "smokescreen," noting that Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) never carried Yes in the first place. 

The rhetoric is new … but not really that new. Comcast and Yes Network have been throwing barbs back and forth since mid-November, when the MSO pulled the exclusive home of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets off the program guides of 900,000 customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 

According to SNL Kagan, Yes Network commands, on average, about $5.36 cents per month per subscriber, putting it in the upper echelons of programming costs.

But with Yankees spring training having arrived, and the Yes' ad campaign -- which featured a full-page New York Times ad -- failing to inspire shock and awe inside Comcast's Philadelphia corporate towers, despondency is setting in among the Yankees fan base. The concern is that the Comcast-Yes feud will be an endless stalemate, similar to the impasse between Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) Los Angeles Dodgers RSN, TWC SportsNet LA, and No. 2 SoCal operator DirecTV. 

On Friday, both the New York Daily News and New York Post weighed in with dour stories, warning local fans not to expect a carriage renewal deal anytime soon. 

In 2012, 21st Century Fox signed a 30-year deal with the Yankees, giving the team increasing control of the RSN over time, in addition to undisclosed yet undoubtedly lucrative licensing compensation. Yet, in Friday's New York tabloid coverage, cable took it on the chin.

"Nothing has changed in more than 30 years of such disputes," said the New York Post's Phil Mushnick in a story titled "Comcast's move to ban Yankees viewers typical cable idiocy." 

He added: "Cable systems can claim what they want, do as they wish, stand on hollow, contradictory, self-serving platforms and phony sensitivities toward subscribers' fees — and not particularly care whether their baloney is swallowed whole, in bites or left on the plate to rot."

For more:
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this New York Post story
- read this New York Daily News story

Related articles:
Yes Network amps up carriage battle with 'drop Comcast' campaign
Comcast no closer to YES Network deal despite looming Yankees season
Comcast dropping YES is a 'gutless money grab,' Yankees president says

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