I don’t really buy into the argument that ESPN is an extension of Red Sox Nation, but among Yankee fans those sentiments run high. To combat that, we enjoy our own version of the baseball world as seen through Yankee-colored glasses. The YES Network — a RAB partner — features Yankee baseball and a whole slew of programming designed to promote the New York Yankees image and brand.
In the largest media market in the biggest city in the country with some of the game’s most devoted fans, that network is reaping the benefits. According to ratings numbers released this week, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network is the most watched regional sports network in the nation, and within the New York Designated Market Area, it has been more popular than ESPN over the first three quarters of 2009.
For the most part, YES’ success has come from Yankee telecasts. Ratings for games were up 9.5 percent over the network’s 2008 numbers. They remain a shade below the 2007 figures for all-time best. According to Nielsen ratings data, approximately 101,000 households watch YES during prime time, making it the most-watched team-centric network in the nation.
Interestingly enough, YES’ broadcast of the post-game show saw a significant increase in ratings this year as well. The analysis and locker room interviews witnessed a seven percent boost in viewership, and I believe this stems from a more comprehensive post-game show. With Kim Jones in the locker room, Yankee fans get player and manager reaction minutes after the game ends. We no longer have to wait for newspapers to release stories, and instead, we can hear thoughts straight for the horses’ mouths.
These numbers are of course good news for YES and would only increase if, say, the River Ave. Blues TV show became a reality. (Right, guys? You would all watch of course.) Seriously, though, if YES were to increase its original programming to feature more news and analysis programs instead of showcasing the 800th rerun of Reggie Jackson’s Yankeeography, the network could do even better. For the Yanks’ TV cash cow, being at the top is satisfying, but in my opinion, the Network would still tap into an even larger audience.