With the Yankees in spring training and its carriage impasse with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) into its fourth month, regional sports channel Yes Network has initiated a multi-million dollar advertising campaign urging the MSO's subscribers to change pay-TV services.
The campaign kicked off today with a full-page add in the New York Times and other newspapers. TV and radio commercials, as well as outdoor ads and social media outreach are also included.
"Whether you are watching TV or listening to the radio, reading a newspaper or you're on social media, you'll see an ad about YES being off Comcast," Tracy Dolgin, CEO of YES Network, told the New York Post.
Comcast has carried Yes in more than 900,000 homes, mostly situated in New Jersey, Scranton, Pa. and Connecticut. Yes Network has broadcast deals with Major League Baseball's New York Yankees and the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. The RSN is owned by 21st Century Fox and was kicked off Comcast back in November when the two sides couldn't reach a deal on carriage renewal.
"Yes Network is the most expensive RSN according to SNL Kagan," Comcast said in a statement. "Given the customer viewership data we have, the price/value proposition for the YES network did not justify the price that Fox was asking for the network."
According to the New York Post, Comcast is seeking "most favored nation" contract terms, which guarantees over the life of the deal that the MSO would have the best carriage rate. With AT&T assuming the role of the biggest pay-TV operator after its DirecTV purchase, offering Comcast those terms has apparently become trickier.
With the impasse, two of baseball's most popular teams, representing the biggest TV markets in the U.S., are blacked out on major pay-TV services. Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) SportsNet LA, the exclusive RSN home of the L.A. Dodgers, is about to enter its third season with no carriage deal with DirecTV (NYSE: T), the No. 2 pay-TV operator in Southern California.
In both cases, the dissenting operators say there simply isn't enough local interest in baseball to justify passing on the carriage price to consumers.
It's notable that, according to the Post, Comcast's blacked-out Yes customers have seen no reduction to the $3-a-month RSN charge on their bills.
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