According to Ourand and Fisher in Monday's edition of the SportsBusiness Journal, the New York Yankees will become the first club in Major League Baseball to stream live games online in their home market, â€śthanks to a landmark carriage deal YES Network signed with Cablevision earlier this spring.â€ť According to the report:
The streamed games will begin later this season and will be available via subscription to Cablevision's TV and broadband customers who subscribe to a tier that carries the YES Network, according to several baseball and cable industry sources.
The move is part of an overall renewal of Cablevision's YES Network affiliation deal that was signed earlier this spring but never officially announced.
For those that have followed MLBâ€™s blackout policy, the carriage deal is a breakthrough as the Yankee games streamed will be available in-market, something that has been unavailable prior through the use of MLB.TV, baseballâ€™s out of market online package. Other clubs that have equity interest in RSNâ€™s include the Red Sox, and Orioles, both of which have been pressing for in-market streaming such as the landmark deal the Yankees are embarking on.
As noted by Ourand and Fisher, â€śA potential test, similar to what YES and Cablevision are now planning, came close to happening last year in Chicago with the Comcast RSN in the market, but was scuttled.â€ť
The in-market streaming deal has the potential to provided additional revenues at the local level for clubs that have the capacity to reach such deals. That could create both positive and negative impacts based upon clubs in a have and have-not position.
In a statement, Cablevision said, â€śWe have nothing to announce at this time, and we typically would not comment on this kind of offering until it was in front of our customers.â€ť
Executives from the key players involved, MLB, YES Network and MLB Advanced had no comment.
As further reported:
But baseball industry sources said negotiations are ongoing to conduct trials in other markets, and potentially, with other distributors in the New York area.
To that end, MLB is hoping that the YES-Cablevision deal will break the existing logjam and open up further in-market streaming. The NBA also is pursuing localized online streaming of its games, with the Boston Celtics among those in active negotiations for the 2009-10 season.
The YES-Cablevision deal, however, includes several components that are still major sticking points with other RSNs. Among those potential problems is the Web hosting of the Yankees games. Under the new pact, the in-market package would be accessible in at least three spots: the MLBAM-operated Yankees.com, YESNetwork.com, and CablevisionÂąs OptimumOnline.com.
An additional subscriber fee with the YES-Cablevision deal that users would pay to access games. At this time, the sub fee is unknown.
Finally, those that are looking to somehow get around not being a Cablevision subscriber will find a roadblock. Ourand and Fisher report:
On the technological front, MLB, YES and Cablevision plan to use an authentication system to ensure that games are seen only by Cablevision subscribers who get YES Network. The authentication system most likely would match Internet users to Cablevision based on the consumers Internet Protocol (IP) address.
If an IP address does not match up with CablevisionÂąs records (i.e., if you are at work), consumers would have to fill out information that would further verify that they actually subscribe.
For more background on this topic, see: The Fight for Rights: Sports and Digital Content
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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