YES more popular than ESPN in the Big Apple


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.

Categories : News


  1. brian says:

    if I had YES i would definitely watch it…No YES Network where I live though.

  2. “The YES Network — a RAB partner —”

    You can thank the FTC for making you write that…

  3. Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

    I just read through the comments from the game (holy shit…THAT was a ballgame). What I’ve learned:

    1. A-Rod only gets hits in late innings when the Yanks are already losing.
    2. Joe Girardi is the worst manager ever.
    3. TSJX will never be doubted by me ever again. Ever. Ever.
    4. That on the anniversary of the Maier HR, it’s only natural that another huge call go our way in a classic playoff game
    4. K-Rob can get out of jams w/o K’s.
    5. Every FA signing we made at the beginning of the year panned out in yesterday’s game, or the Wednseday game.
    CC pitched great. A.J. pitched well. Tex had a great game yesterday. Swishy drove in a run w/a double and made a great defensive play on the throw to Jeet to get (Gomez?) and save a run.
    6. The NY Yankees are FUCKING AWESOME, bitches. We just gout outplayed in nearly every facet of the game and won. WS here we come.

  4. pat says:

    What exactly is YES competition in the NY area? SNY?

  5. DreDog says:

    I love this team. Great Bullpen work. How many teams can say their top two relievers didn’t look great but the rest of the bullpen was nails (Ok, Marte nearly blew my high).

  6. Daniel says:

    Especially after last nights classic game, does anyone know why YES doesn’t rebroadcast the postgame show? My DVR only caught some of it.

    I’m watching the ESPN footage but it pales in comparison.

    Its probably available on the web but my internet connection is horrible for watching video.

  7. Jersey says:

    I believe this stems from a more comprehensive post-game show.

    I think you’re absolutely right, Ben, even beyond the postgame. The simple difference is that YES is very good at doing what ESPN has consistently failed to do: provide actual quality content about viewers’ favorite team. Not obnoxious anchors slinging “witty” remarks and catchphrases, or former players endlessly interpreting everything, but the kind of access that the typical inkstained beat reporter provides.

    YES seems to know when to get out of the way (which is a function of them being owned by the team, I realize, but still, it works). If viewers have a choice between getting content through ESPN’s prism of retardation, or getting it straight from the horse’s mouth, they’re often going to choose the latter.

    • Well, in ESPN’s defense, they aren’t responsible for giving content for just one team, they have to be everything to everyone. The job is a little harder there.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

        That is an excellent point.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

        That’s why I don’t pay the announcers of Fox or TBS any mind. They get the majority of information on the Yankees from the sportswriters of New York, the majority of who, seem to hate the Yankees.
        I would be shocked if any announcer, (ie Macarver, Buck, Caray) knows more about the Yankees than any of the RAB trioka or regular poster who comes on RAB.

      • Jersey says:

        Sure it’s harder, but still doable. Look at BBTN: how much time is spent in-studio with the talking heads, versus on the fields, in the clubhouses or in the press briefings around the league? The WWL already has vast resources to draw on and affiliates in every city. Lord knows if I were a broadcaster and had that network, I’d make good use of it. That’s the stuff of a really effective bottom-up style network. But instead, we get John Kruk.

      • Mike Pop says:

        they aren’t responsible for giving content for just one team, they have to be everything to everyone.

        Except the Buffalo Bills.

  8. Slu says:

    IMO, I don’t think it is because of the an ESPN bias towards the Red Sox. Hell, I don’t even think that is even real.

    It is more because ESPN sucks. Sportsceneter does not need to be an hour and a half long. There is too much talking, and not enough highlights, stats, and interviews with managers, coaches and players. I don’t need to know who’s more “now”. I don’t want to see Kenny Maine stupid “humor” stories. I don’t need the sports gossip. I need a 30 minute show with highlights, stats, and some minor player reaction if something big happened. Maybe I could get talked into 60 minutes. If I want more coverage, I could go to ESPNews. And then there is a problem with their awful “Analysts”.

    Sure, I watch Yes because they are more focused on the Yankees, but if I want baseball coverage of all teams, I watch MLB Network. I try not to watch anything on ESPN that is not a live event. I also stay away from their stupid automatic video playing website as well.

    • “IMO, I don’t think it is because of the an ESPN bias towards the Red Sox. Hell, I don’t even think that is even real.”

      Re: ESPN and Sox bias… I disagree with you and Ben. I know the whining about it can get annoying, to put it nicely, but I think it’s pretty clear that ESPN exhibits bias in its treatment of the Sox and Yanks. One reason why this is so is simply because the Sox have provided the most popular narrative of the decade (breaking the long title drought, Sox/Yanks, the idiots, Manny and Pedro and Papi, yadda yadda). We can downplay people’s complaints about ESPN’s bias by pointing to the fact that the team with the most popular narrative will always get the most coverage (like the Yanks did in the late ’90s), etc., but that’s just an explanation, it doesn’t negate the bias.

      But it doesn’t end there.

      Their top baseball analyst is a close friend of the Sox’ front office and longtime Boston baseball guy (Gammons). Their most popular and influential web presence is notoriously pro-Boston and anti-New York (Simmons). One of the regular hosts of their nightly baseball recap show is a Sox fan and doesn’t hide that fact (Berthiaume). Steve Phillips is notoriously anti-Yankees, and John Kruk is notoriously anti-rational thought (making him susceptible to being swayed by the popular narrative of the moment). Skip Bayless is on ESPN for half of every weekday, and he’s never met a NY team he couldn’t find a way to shit on (especially the Yankees). It’s not like ESPN is running a bunch of objective observers out there to talk about and write about baseball.

      Even beyond all that, on a more macro level, I don’t see why it’s so hard to admit that ESPN has a pro-Boston, anti-New York bias. ESPN is a money-making venture, and the vast majority of their audience/customers exhibit a strong anti-NY bias in sports. ESPN caters to that audience. ESPN is not really a news organization, it’s an entertainment venture seeking to make money, and sometimes it goes about achieving that goal by catering to the base instincts of its audience.

      • slappy white says:

        you left out Cowherd who obsesses over Yankees being “bad for baseball”

      • There’s one more thing I wanted to say but didn’t work into that comment. ESPN has altered it’s entire model in the last 5-10 years. ESPN, through probably the late ’90s (or maybe a bit earlier or later, it’s immaterial really), was a news organization. Sportscenter was so wildly original and popular in the early-mid ’90s because it brought a sense of humor and a different sensibility to sports coverage, but that only worked because, at its core, it was still a news program. They’ve altered that model, though, and gone to an opinion model rather than a news model, and that change affects not only the opinion-based programming (ATH, PTI, First Take, etc.), but also Sportscenter and their coverage of live events.

        Their goal is to make the most money possible, and they make more money by giving opinion than by giving hard news. Thus, their goal is not to objectively provide information, their goal is to entertain people. There’s a big difference there, and it has a substantial effect on the product they provide. I’m not begrudging them their right to make as much money as they can. If that’s their goal, then good for them. But let’s not act like they try to provide sports news with objectivity and don’t exhibit biases.

        /beating a dead horse

      • steve (different one) says:

        i’m actually with the Congressman here.

        ESPN simply employs a disproportionate number of writers/analysts who are either openly Red Sox fans or active Yankee haters.

        you forgot Jim Caple, who wrote an entire book about how evil the Yankees are.

        i guess the “yankee guy” is Olney. and that’s fine, i guess.

        but the only guy ESPN had that ever really gave the Yankees a fair shake was Harold Reynolds.

        finally, there is an ESPN Boston. there is not an ESPN New York. doesn’t that seem a little crazy?

        whatever, i’m not “mad”. this doesn’t keep me up at night, but the Congressman is right. Gammons, Simmons, Caple, Berthiamune, Kruk, John Miller….it gets old after a while.

        plus Gammons has completely lost it in his old age. he’s simply abondoned all of the objectivity he used to at least fake. remember last year when Farns threw behind Manny, he was literally spitting he was so angry. called Farns a “AAA pitcher”. give me a break.

      • leche: it does the yankees good says:

        it also has to do with that fact that their in bristol ct… think about it like this… all the production assitants and video runners who live in the area probably root for the sox… if the analysts on tv werent originally from bristol im sure they’d adopt the team that is in their current market and being rooted for heavily by everyone working behind the scenes at the espn campus.

        i remember brian kenny, one of the few if only yankee fan(s) at espn, talking about this being a major factor in why their coverage is slanted so heavily in favor of the sox on the max kellerman show a few yrs ago. he discussed how depressed the entire building would be if the sox had a big loss the night before.

        • I hear you, and I think the location might matter a bit, but I don’t think the location has all that much to do with it. ESPN has always been in Bristol and became less objective as it expanded after the Disney acquisition, which gave it bases in cities around the country. My point being… ESPN became less objective as it became less Bristol-based. If this was more based on location, one would expect the opposite. I think it has everything to do with business and less to do with location of their studios.

      • If anyone’s still reading this thread… I’d be very curious to hear why Slu or Ben or anyone else who denies ESPN’s bias issues feels that the alleged bias doesn’t exist. What’s your reaction to the comments posted in this comment-thread? I think this is a really interesting conversation, I’d love to hear the counter-arguments.

        • crawdaddie says:

          I would love to hear those counter-arguments too as it is rather curious that this blog supports ESPN as much as has with their comments. That’s weird to me considering how most of their readership feels the opposite and believes that ESPN is anti-Yankees. Maybe, they don’t want to create an enemy in ESPN.

        • Slu says:

          This maybe in a little to late, but nevertheless…I never really thought there was anti-Yankee bias, I guess you could say. Is there a Pro-Sox bias? I don’t know. Gammons is pretty obvious though.

          Congressman, I thought you brought up some great points re: ESPN becoming more about opinion and entertainment. I think, if anything, ESPN is has both a pro-Sox and pro-Yankee bias in terms of coverage. They cover the most popular teams to get the most viewers. And I think they do this for the same reasons they moved away from news; to make more money.

          Like you said, there is nothing wrong with them trying to make more money, I just miss the way it used to be in the mid-90s when I was in college and 6:30 PM Sportscenter was appointment TV for me and my roommates.

          To be fair, I admittedly don’t watch enough ESPN anymore to even know if they are anti-Yankees. I had enough of them several years ago to the point where I haven’t watched BBTN or Sportscenter in at least a year or maybe more.

          Perhaps you are correct. You make a lot of good points. Perhaps I am guilty of giving an non-informed opinion about ESPN as it currently exists. I guess I just pine for the old days.

          But at the same time, so many shows/websites/magazines are accused of being “anti-Yankee”, that I do kind of get sick of it and start to tune it out.

          But one thing I think we can all agree on is:
          MLB Network > ESPN BBTN.

    • murg says:

      MLB – you gotta be kidding. Their baseball coverage is horribly produced and delivered by idiots whose pathetic attempts to emulate the worst of ESPN antics makes for excruciating viewing. Even the insightful Al Leiter seems to regress in the presence of the MLB “analysts.”

  9. gxpanos says:

    Ugh, what shills you guys are!

    For real though, RAB-TV would be awesome.

  10. slappy white says:

    man….I just woke up….what happened ?

  11. Mike Pop says:

    Yeah, but we all know those ratings are flawed. They don’t take in account houses that have more than two television sets and other things of that nature.

  12. Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

    BTW…Anybody think the Sox still have a shot vs. the Angels?

    I would not be shocked if the Sox made a comeback since they’re harer to kill than cockroaches, but I think the Angels are going to win.

  13. slappy white says:

    as long as the C is on the bench, they have a chance…..play him please

  14. slappy white says:

    Anyone else wanna join me in beating the shit out of Colin Cowherd ?

  15. Matt M. says:

    True. It’s amazing how powerful a force YES has been even with all of the timeslots that it tends to throw in the garbage.

    In their defense, whenever some commenter criticizes Francessa on YES, i always retort that he is the proverbial “innings eater” of the network–chewing up spots from 1 – 6 DAILY.

    There should be a RAB show or at least additional analysis because that’s a winning formula. The YES pre-game and post-game shows constantly take home good ratings and reap accolades and rewards. I even like having the BP show on in the background because you get another glimpse of the team.

    Overall, Francessa and the Game Coverage are staples in their lineup. Where they do have some room for growth derives from their insufferable tendency to beat Yankeeographies and Yankee Classics to death. A further waste of time, and far more egregious at that, is come the off-season/rain delays–when YES turns into the White Christmas Classic Movie Network.

    Network execs are smart enough to realize that there’s a lot of potential still being left on the table.

    And more pressingly, companies should recognize YES’s reach and its upward trend and devote more advertising buys onto YES. As we all know, YES has its endearing rotation of a grand total of 12 commercials that get beaten to death throughout the season. Consumers/fans who watch the majority of the games, such as myself, can flawlessly recreate that Heineken taxi cab commercial (or the Proceede commercials from a few years back).

    Both sides of this machine are far from peak optimization — and given their success without that optimization there’s a promising future.

    • MikeD says:

      …which makes me wonder, why do they always play the same damn commercials? Heinken has many, many commercials. Do they need to play the same one? Rotation.

  16. You don’t hear this too often, but the Yanks should take a page from SNY’s book, and offer more original sports programing like a sportscenter type show.

  17. pollo says:

    SNY > YES

    Beermoney and all those dumb 30 minute Jets shows are quite entertaining.

  18. JobaWockeeZ says:

    The RAB Radio show should be on YES like a real radio show. That would be all sorts of awesome.

  19. pat says:

    HAHAHA Montero went deep AGAIN yesterday at instructs.

  20. Accent Shallow says:

    I only watch YES for games. Would better, original programming change that? Probably not, but you never know.

  21. Tank the Frank says:

    To follow up on what the Congressman was talking about; I think the title of this post says it all when it comes to ESPN’s anti-New York bias. Since YES’ inception, they have been in direct competition with ESPN in the New York market. Now it seems YES has surpassed them in that regard. That’s taking a lot of viewers – and therefor a lot of dollars – away from ESPN. It’s no wonder that they have let their bitterness show during their broadcasts. I’ve personally been witness to it too many times to be convinced otherwise.

    ESPN doesn’t just desplay an anti-Yankee bias, but I’ve also heard numerous occassions where they’ve taken shots at YES. For example, big hits or other moments by Yankee role players are often greeted with the sarcastic plea of “Start the Yankeeography!”. They recognize YES as a threat, and respond in the condescending manner that they’re known for. Their anti-Yankee bias is very real – in my opinion absolutely unquestionable, and I believe the YES Network is at the very heart of it.

    • slappy white says:

      well stated The Frank

    • ZacheryStripes says:

      Tank, couldn’t have said it any better! In the end, it’s so soothing to realize the descent and fair people at YES are defeating the biased bastards at NESPN.

      Thank you YES, for giving yankee fans a home to get great sport coverage.

  22. MikeD says:

    I would love to see YES increase its original programming, both Yankee and non-Yankee material. I’ve long ago given up on ESPN Sportscenter for my baseball news, and even if I wanted to watch Baseball Tonight, I can never find it consistently. If YES introduced a daily baseball show that covers all MLB, I’d watch it. A show covering the Yankee minor leagues would be welcome, with profiles of the players. It’s also good marketing as it builds interest in the next genertation of Yankees. I would be great if they ocassionaly broadcast a few of the minor league games.

    There’s a lot of programming they could add that will keep YES fresh, encourage regular viewers to watch more, and bring non-regular viewers back (meaning those that “only” watch the games).

    • Drew says:

      I don’t know that they’d get into a “national type broadcast” like ESPN. One thing that would be great, as you mentioned would be Minor’s coverage. Not only news and whatnot but the occasional game. It would be sick if they took viewership from Francesa and began a minors news and weekly recap at say 6:00 once a week.

      • JMK aka The Overshare says:

        I completely agree with what both Drew and Mike D are saying. But I’d take it a bit further — why not have a minor league game of the week? Say Montero and SWB are raking and playing another stacked team? I think a lot of people would be interested in checking out that game.

        Perhaps it’s because we at RAB are more interested in the minors than the average fan, but if YES is able to build interest through player profiles, minor league spotlights, even a once-a-week prospect chat show (how does that sound, Axisa?), it would be a heck of a lot better than the same Yankeeography or Classics. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the classic games and profiles of the greats, but how often do I want to check them out? Not that often. Also, the Yankeeography and Classics seem to appeal more to the older fans, but extensive, involved coverage of the minors would be great for the younger crowd (which Mike D described very well).

        Also, an RAB show would be great. I’ve yet to find a place anywhere that has better analysis of the Yankees (and I mean no offense to the other bloggers who also frequent this site).

        • Slu says:

          A minor league show with analysis and highlights would be great.

          A minor league game of the week would be even better!

          I like the way you guys think and I would like to subscribe to your newsletters.

  23. Mike Nitabach says:

    Kim Jones is fantastic. She filled on for Sue Waldman doing color on one of the CBS radio broadcasts when the Yankees were in Seattle during Rosh Hashanah, and she did a great job.

    She also has a great sense of humor. During her on-field pre-game report in Tampa Bay, the Ray’s mascot was mugging behind her, and she kinda ripped into him in a funny way.

    (Yes, I have a crush on her! Don’t tell my wife.)

    • Ferb says:

      Don’t worry, Mike. We all have a crush on the lovely Ms. Jones and Mo help us if our significant others find out why we NEED to watch the Pre & post game shows.

      Damn, we need a Kim Jones show!!

  24. [...] Benjamin Kabak at River Avenue Blues says the YES Network appears to attract more Yankees fans than ESPN… [...]

  25. [...] was down this year, but at least the YES Network is really popular in NYC, even more than [...]

  26. [...] and their popularity. The team led the AL in home and road attendance, and the YES Network is more popular than ESPN in the New York City [...]

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