The New York Yankees will become the first Major League Baseball team to step to the plate with in-market streamed games.
Fans will be able to watch streamed Yankees games within the New York market through a couple of pacts reached earlier this spring by YES Network, the regional sports network that holds rights to Bronx Bombers' telecasts. YES inked agreements with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which holds the digital rights to all MLB teams, and Cablevision Systems Corp., according to published reports.
As part of its affiliation pact renewal with Cablevision Systems Corp., YES will make the games available to the operator's subscribers who receive the RSN as part of their video packages, as well as purchase its high-speed data service, Optimum.net., according to sources in the TV sports community.
Cablevision issued the following statement: "We have nothing to announce at this time, and we typically would not comment on this kind of offering until it was in front of our customers."
Officials at YES and MLBAM couldn't immediately be reached for comment Sunday.
It was unclear at press time how much subscribers would be charged for the service, or how soon it would become available. MLBAM has enjoyed good success with MLB.TV, its national package of streamed out-of-market games, which precludes subscribers from watching contests within the home RSN's territory as a means to protect its audience base.
Although the games will be accessible via YESnetwork.com, Yankees.com, operated by MLBAM, and Cablevision's Optimum.net, an authentication process will be in place to ensure that only subscribers to the operator's video and broadband packages can watch the games on their computers or other portable devices.
Authentication has become a major issue -- it was a very hot topic at Cable Show 09 in Washington back in April -- as content providers look for ways to increase access to their shows and product, while cable operators want to protect the investments they've made in securing programming and at the same time afford their customers with multiplatform access to such fare.
Out of the gate, the streamed contests are expected to include the same advertisers that appear in YES telecasts, which should protect advertisers' schedules from any ratings dilution within the Yankees games.
With the most-watched RSN and such a high-profile team taking the lead, other squads are expected to follow suit. Last year, Comcast Chicago was exploring a similar gambit, as well as video-on-demand MLB games, before plans were halted.
Similarly, RSNs with rights to National Basketball Association team telecasts are interested in stepping up to the line with in-market streaming.