Archive for YES Network
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.
Over the weekend, I reported on a lawsuit filed against George Steinbrenner. Bob Gutkowski, formerly an executive at the MSG Network, has sued the Boss for damages up to around $43 million. He claims that George stole the YES Network idea from him and never delivered a promised job as head of the network or the compensation that would come with it.
Today, I secured a copy of the complaint for all of the RAB legal eagles to read. I haven’t had a chance to peruse it yet and probably won’t until later tonight. You can read it below in the Scribd embed or grab the PDF here. I’ll try to offer up some analysis over the next few days.
By many accounts, the YES Network has been one of the greatest Yankee success stories of the last ten years (and I’m not just saying that because of our affiliation with them). The regional sports network has garnered high ratings for its games and has allowed the team to capture even more revenue. With in-market streaming deals now in place, the team and the network stand to gain even more, and some estimates value the YES Network at $3 billion.
Now, though, a former MSG head is claiming that George Steinbrenner and the Yankees stole the idea for a team-focused RSN from him, and after years of haggling with the team, Bob Gutkowski filed a $23 million lawsuit in federal court yesterday for fraud and breach of contract. While the court filing isn’t yet available online, Richard Sandomir has more:
Bob Gutkowski, who as president of the MSG Network negotiated a 12-year, $493.5 million deal in 1988 with the Yankees and is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that he had several meetings with Steinbrenner, starting in 1996, to discuss the idea of a Yankees network. He said he also made a presentation in 1998 to Steinbrenner and other Yankees executives that laid out how to build a regional sports network controlled by the team.
At one meeting in 1997, according to the lawsuit, Steinbrenner said he wanted to use the threat of starting a network to get $1 billion for a 10-year extension from MSG.
“At no point did Steinbrenner, regarded for his business acumen, conceive of creating a Yankees television network,” Gutkowski said in his papers. “The idea and plan was solely Mr. Gutkowski’s.” He added that Steinbrenner “knowingly and continuously misrepresented” an oral agreement that Gutkowski would run or be part of the network.
Interestingly, as Sandomir points out, Gutkowski has named Steinbrenner as the sole defendant in the case. According to Newsday’s Neil Best, Gutkowski claims that Steinbrenner made a personal promise to him regarding the network. It is doubtful that Steinbrenner will be able to testify in his behalf, and the Yankees may instead have to rely upon Lonn Trost and Randy Levine for statements in court.
The Yankees termed the suit “patently false and frivolous.” Said Howard Rubenstein, “Mr. Gutkowski had nothing to do with the initiation of the idea for an R.S.N. for the New York Yankees, nor did he have any role in the establishment or the success of the YES Network.”
In his court filings, Gutkowski alleges that Steinbrenner promised him the reins to the new RSN. While a consulting contract materialized for Gutkowski, he alleges that he did not get the position promised to him and that his suggestions were ignored.
Said the plaintiff in a statement, “I did everything possible to avoid having to sue George Steinbrenner. I have repeatedly spoken with his people and asked for a meeting directly with George. Unfortunately, their position was to stall me, string me along and, in the end, block the meeting. Their actions made it clear that the only way for me to be fairly compensated for the idea that I brought to George and the work that I performed was to sue him.”
For the legal eagles among us, I’ll try to get the filing posted as soon as it’s available. This is one case definitely worth watching.
I have a few Yankees articles open in various browser tabs. Time for a link dump of Yankee news and features.
We start with the YES Network and their ratings. As the Yankees were rolling over the competition en route to a finish in first place in May, the team’s RSN found itself enjoying record-setting ratings. YES averaged a 4.50 household rating in the New York area for the month. This mark is a record for a New York-based RSN broadcasting baseball, and in lay terms, it means simply that a lot of people are watching the Yanks on TV. Welcome to the bandwagon, friends.
Despite this popularity, in a new study, Forbes ranked Yankee fans in the middle of the pack in terms of value. By dividing broadcast revenue, gate receipts, sponsorship money and other revenue sources over fan base population, Forbes has ranked baseball teams by the amount per fan they draw in. The Yankees draw in just $45 per fan.
Forbes’ writer Christina Settimi called that a “middling” total, but their equation seems flawed to me. Calling the entire population of a metropolitan area the potential fanbase ignores the reality that the vast majority of city dwellers just aren’t interested or can’t go to games. How much the Yankees draw in per fan at the game and through their TV and radio broadcasts would be a far better measure of fan value.
In non-business news, the entire country of Taiwan has been living the ups and downs of Chien-Ming Wang‘s rocky season. Marc Carig interviewed various people from the Wang-crazed nation, and it’s clear that the islanders did not like how the Yankees treated their struggling hero. It’s hard to grasp just how big a deal Chien-Ming Wang is in Taiwan.
Finally, check out the new photoblog Demolition of Yankee Stadium. Yankee fan Joe Mazziliano is running the oft-updated site with pictures from the destruction of the House that Ruth Built. He promises fresh content until the replacement parks are open, and with photos from inside and outside of the stadium, his site provides a visual log of the final days of Yankee Stadium.
No, this isn’t some odd Sesame Street style game of “One of These Doesn’t Belong.” It is, instead, three short stories all rolled into one post.
David Wells to join TBS broadcast
Outspoken former Yankee David Wells has signed a multiyear deal to join the TBS baseball crew. He’ll be serving as an in-game analysts for TBS’ baseball broadcasts throughout the year. We’ll have to see if he can announce with a hangover as well as he can pitch with one. Ostensibly, he’s replacing Harold Reynolds in the booth, but those are big shoes to fill. I’m going to judge him based on whether or not he thinks Joba should be in the starting rotation.
YES, on FiOS, to be available nationally
Good news with a bad twist for Yankee fans living outside of the New York area: The YES Network has become the first regional sports network to earn national distribution of sorts. As Maury Brown reported earlier today, the HD version of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network will be available nationally on Verizon FiOS’ Extreme HD packages. That does not, however, include game broadcasts for either the Yankees or Nets. Baseball’s territorial rules do not permit it.
Toilets for Everyone and an Accessible Stadium
With New York City officially opening two new baseball stadiums this week, the local papers are going all out in their coverage. Yesterday, The Times covered the topic of toilets. New Yankee Stadium will have 30 percent more toilet fixtures than the old park, with the following breakdown: 369 women’s toilets; 98 toilets and 298 urinals for men; and 78 unisex bathrooms for families and luxury suite patrons. I can personally attest to the bathrooms at the new stadium. They’re clean, roomy and much, much nicer than those at the old park.
In other stadium news, Yanks’ COO Lonn Trost and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York touted the accessibility of the new stadium this afternoon. While the new park had to be ADA-compliant, the federal government has praised the new stadium as going above and beyond the call of duty. Most notable is the accessible paths to the field. Fans in wheelchairs can now enter the field during stadium tours.
Catching up on a news item from the over the weekend, we find Maury Brown at the Biz of Baseball talking about the success of the YES Network. Now that the final 2008 numbers are in, the YES Network has emerged as the most watched regional sports network in the nation for the sixth consecutive year.
According to Brown’s compilation, “YES averaged 29,000 TV in total day delivery, 16% more than #2 NESN, which averaged 25,000 households.” Take that, Boston. Meanwhile, this 29,000 total was just 2,000 less than the combined total delivery of MSG, MSG Plus and the Mets’ SportsNet NY. Talk about crushing the competition.
Meanwhile, when the Yankees are on TV during primetime, YES draws an average of 72,000 households. Game telecasts, according to the YES Network press release, “regularly out-performed ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS programs in New York. For example, from May 28 to August 7, primetime YES Yankees telecasts were the #1-rated program in the New York DMA 24 out of 25 game days in TV households, Men 18+, Men 18-49, Men 25-54, Adults 18-49, Adults 25-54, and Total Viewers 2+.” While that’s a lot of TV ratings mumbo-jumbo to the untrained ear, in a nutshell, that simply means more money for the Yankees.
In terms of local popularity, it’s not that close. Thirty-three Yankee telecasts earned a 5.0 rating or higher while just seven of SNY’s Mets telecasts reached such lofty levels. They may have been a mediocre, over-paid and under-performing team in 2008, but the Yankees still reel in the viewers. For the bottom line, that’s a very good thing indeed, and with even more expectations placed upon the star-filled 2009 team, I would expect a seventh year of YES dominance.
David Cone, star of the best Yankee commercial ever, is back with the organization. According to Joel Sherman, Cone will join the YES Network, filling one of the two Yankee broadcast vacancies. Cone will serve as an in-game analyst and host of “Yankees on Deck.”