Despite a head start as one of the few MLB-team-controlled regional sports networks (RSNs) and a stated goal from the New York Yankees, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) version of YES Network may or may not be ready for Opening Day.
The Yankees via YES Network have controlled their broadcast rights for the past several years, teaming up with Amazon Prime Video for a game of the week. That partnership continues in 2023, although the schedule is changing from a Friday game of the week to a Wednesday game of the week over the course of 20 weeks. And, of course, the Yankees figure heavily in the national schedules for both ESPN and Fox.
The Red Sox, controlling 80 percent of NESN, launched their own DTC service last year in conjunction with Boston Bruins owner Delaware North, charging $30 per month that covers live games for both teams. The pairing is a particularly attractive one: it allows for 12 continuous months of live action, and it draws on the extensive video libraries from both teams.
The Red Sox, however, decided to work outside the existing cable networks in crafting NESN 360, leaving NESN as the legacy cable partner and devoting some exclusive content to NESN 360. The final shape of the YES Network offering remains to be seen, per the New York Post, though we should see some details shortly, even if the DTC isn’t operational on Opening Day.
This process resembles what’s happening with MLB’s streaming efforts. MLB.tv is in the midst of renewals — and remember, T-Mobile customers, today launches the window to order a free season of MLB.tv access via the Tuesday Tuesdays app — and one plan has the app serving as centerpiece of tomorrow’s next MLB streaming effort. But the MLB streaming space is still in a state of flux, both on the Diamond Sports front and the Warner Brothers Discovery’s AT&T SportsNet front. Will we see a DTC service across the country? Will it be limited to the Diamond and AT&T markets, and under what financial terms? Until either entity actually declares bankruptcy and we know the terms, it’s hard for fans to plan ahead, even if MLB already has some undisclosed contingency plans in place.
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