The Yankees could soon become a thorn in the side of New York’s major cable companies.
The Bronx Bombers, in conjunction with tech giant Amazon, are preparing to become the first Major League Baseball team to allow fans to watch games on their phones or laptops without a cable subscription – an offer to win the millennials who cut ties with cable television, La Poste has learned.
The plan for the YES cable TV network of the Yankees is to allow a limited number of Yankees games to be broadcast online – possibly on Amazon’s Prime Video service – starting with the 2020 baseball season, it said. sources. The ultimate goal is to provide an annual streaming package at a cost – say a year for $ 99, sources said.
The move comes as the Yankees have seen their ratings drop 17% this year, despite the team winning their division. While earlier play times were one of the main culprits, cutting the cord also played a role, sources said.
“The Yankees are going to dig in and try to develop a real good streaming product,” a source with knowledge of the streaming plan told The Post. Fans might get “some” games as early as next year, but not all of them, the person added.
Making that decision possible was a unanimous vote last month by all MLB team owners to allow local game streaming, a practice known as market streaming. Prior to this vote, the streaming rights in the market belonged to MLB, not teams, and MLB sold those rights to individual regional sports networks, or RSNs, like Fox and YES for $ 2 million per year. .
Voting may seem like a game-changer, but it may be years before most teams can start broadcasting their games due to complicated contracts with the local cable companies and regional sports networks that broadcast their games.
The Yankees are having an easier time as the team owns 20% of their local TV network, which means they won’t be fighting YES for streaming rights.
Amazon – whose Prime Video service has already entered into a number of live sports streaming deals, including with the English Premier League and with the NFL for 11 “Thursday Night Football” games this season – has joined a group of investors earlier this year, including Blackstone Group and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, to buy an 80% stake in YES valued at $ 3.5 billion.
The only remaining hurdle for the Yankees are the cable companies that offer YES games like Spectrum and Optimum, who could claim they have the right to broadcast all games, including streaming games, under their contracts with YES, sources said. YES ‘contracts with cable companies generally run for three-year periods.
“It’s very complicated, with some deals giving cable companies most-favored-nation status,” the source with knowledge of the Yankees’ streaming plans told The Post.
Other teams that may seek to take control of their streaming rights in the coming months include the Kansas City Royals, whose contract with their RSN expires before next season, and the Miami Marlins, whose contract with their RSN. expires next year. The RSNs for these two teams are owned by Sinclair.
“It’s a work in progress,” a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Post.
It’s not just the cord cut that makes baseballs salivate about streaming. The heated negotiations between the RSNs and the cable companies have historically been known to halt the broadcast of the games, making it more difficult for fans to watch the games.
After Sinclair bought 21 regional sports networks from Fox earlier this year for $ 10.6 billion, it failed to secure a deal with Dish Network to transport them. Sinclair is also in the midst of difficult negotiations with Comcast that threaten to cause the cable giant to abandon its RSNs before the new season, a source who negotiates the deals with sports media told The Post.
Teams working with the Sinclair RSNs could also partner with the conservative streaming company to stream games to track down some of those lost viewers.
The Yankees declined to comment on its streaming plans.
When the team sold a stake in YES to Amazon in August, Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner said, “Together with our partners, we look forward to dramatically expanding the way sports content is delivered and consumed by. fans around the world. “