Thursday marked Opening Day of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, but the team-owned regional sports networks in New York are nearing the bottom of the ninth in renewal negotiations with the top DBS providers.
SNY, the TV home of the New York Mets and YES, the carrier for the New York Yankees, are coming up against contract expirations with Dish Network and DirecTV, respectively.
SNY's deal with Dish is set to conclude at midnight on April 1. However, the first Mets contest of the season is not scheduled until 7 p.m. that day against the Florida Marlins in Miami. SNY said it was in ongoing discussions with the No. 2 DBS provider at press time.
Dish had this response: "We are in negotiations with SNY for fair terms to reach an agreement. Due to confidentiality reasons, we cannot comment further on negotiations. It's important to know that this is normal course of business, as we negotiate hundreds of contracts per year."
The distributor also pointed out that some Mets games are available on WPIX-TV channel 11 in the New York DMA and on national networks.
SNL Kagan estimates SNY's monthly subscriber license fee at around $2.20
YES, meanwhile, will see its current multiyear contract with DirecTV end at midnight on April 2. The RSN televised the Yankees' season opening win over the Detroit Tigers on March 31 and doesn't have another Bronx Bombers live game until Sunday April 3. SNL Kagan pegs YES license fee at some $2.60 per subscriber per month.
YES issued the following statement: "We are negotiating in good faith with DirecTV in hopes of resolving this matter quickly."
For its part, DirecTV said it was negotiating with YES, while saying the RSN's "threats to take down the channel are nothing more than gamesmanship to try and gain leverage in the talks." The distributor said the contract will "get resolved if YES agrees that DirecTV should pay the same amount as the other three dominant TV providers in the market (Comcast, Time Warner, & Cablevision). DirecTV customers should not be forced to pay a penny more for YES Network."
During its season-opening Bronx Bombers telecast, YES talent, its bottom line crawl and a spot alerted viewers to the contract situation. Information was also available on its website.
SNY did not disseminate similar information about its contract situation with Dish on its air on Thursday.
Dish has carried SNY since its rookie campaign five years ago, but has never reached a deal with YES. The DBS provider's contract ended with MSG Network and MSG Plus last Oct. 1 and those New York RSNs have remained off Dish's air since then.