A few hours after the Yanks’ loss to the Rays on Saturday while many fans were away from their computers, Sports Business Journal broke a story of some significance to Yankee fans. Per a report by John Ourand and Eric Fisher, Cablevision is in line to become the first in-market cable company to stream baseball games live to certain subscribers.
The details are fairly straightforward:
The New York Yankees will become the first MLB team to have its games streamed live online within its home market, thanks to a landmark carriage deal YES Network signed with Cablevision earlier this spring.
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.
The pact also marks the first major effort within baseball for in-market streaming — an issue that has troubled the industry for years. Several clubs that hold equity interest in regional sports networks, such as the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, have pressed for in-market streaming to complement MLB.TV’s out-of-market online video package.
In the article, Ourand and Fisher go more in depth on the issues and hurdles. They note that that live Yankee games will be available through three sites now — MLB.com and YESNetwork.com via the MLB.tv subscriptions and now Cablevision’s offering as well. They note too that this deal could be a breakthrough for teams and regional sports networks that have had to work through league revenue and broadcast rights plans to reach potential in-market streaming customers.
But don’t go out and cancel your cable subscriptions quite yet. While this deal is groundbreaking in the fact that it’s the first streaming deal outside of the MLB Advanced Media umbrella, Cablevision is making the games available only for customers who already subscribe to a cable TV package that includes the YES Network. Basically, those customers are simply getting what they have already paid for but through a different delivery system.
It will be interesting to see where this deal goes. It’s certainly a trend-setter, but until MLB and regional cable providers are offering the games live over the Internet but without a cable TV package, it won’t redefine how we watch baseball.