In a surprise move, Time Warner Cable will give its 1.2 million New York- and
New Jersey-area subscribers the option to drop regional sports service Yankees
Entertainment & Sports Network next month.
Similar to Cablevision System Corp.'s a la carte carriage of YES, Time Warner
announced Thursday that as of July 29, it would reduce by $1 the bill of any
subscriber who wants to drop YES.
New Time Warner subscribers signing up after July 29 would have the option of
purchasing YES for $1 per month, system executives said.
Current customers who receive YES as part of their standard tier of service
will continue to receive the regional sports channel at no additional monthly
Time Warner executives said the MSO is exercising the "most-favored-nation"
clause in its YES deal, which allows Time Warner to change its existing standard
basic-carriage deal with YES to take advantage of Cablevision's carriage
Cablevision in April began offering YES on an a la carte basis for $1.95 per
month or as part of a package with Madison Square Garden Network and Fox Sports
New York for $4.95.
Time Warner said it expects to reach similar a la carte arrangements with
MSGN and FSNY when those deals expire at the end of the year.
Observers believed Time Warner would wait until the end of the Major League
Baseball season before making any distribution alterations to YES. But an MSO
spokesman said the company wanted to provide the same options to its subscribers
as other MSOs in the market provide.
It's unclear whether Time Warner will continue to pay YES $2.12 for each
subscriber, regardless of how many drop the service. Under the Cablevision
agreement, the MSO pays YES $2.12 for every subscriber who gets the regional
sports network and no less than 51% of the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO's subscriber
In a prepared statement, YES officials said the network views Time Warner's move "as a breach of Time Warner's agreement with YES, and we will be advising them of such. We will take the necessary action to protect our rights and keep the YES Network and the Yankees available to Time Warner customers without any additional cost."
Comcast Corp., which also carries YES as a basic service, would only say that it hasn't announced any changes to its lineup regarding YES.
MSO executives said the agreement is the first step toward moving all
high-priced regional sports networks to a sports pay tier.