Yanks-Sox Sets N.Y. RSN Record

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The 2005 Major League Baseball season opener between the New York Yankees and their arch-rivals, the World Champion Boston Red Sox, produced the highest rating ever for a New York-area regional sports network.

The Bronx Bombers’ 9-2 triumph over the Red Sox, which was blacked out locally on national carrier ESPN2, generated an 11.6 household rating in the New York DMA, as the game averaged 1.2 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research data supplied by YES.

The 11.6 rating topped the 9.7 mark posted by YES the night on July 1, 2004, another Yanks-Red Sox game (think Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter diving into the crowd).YES executives said last night’s performance was the highest-rated live event in the history of any New York area regional sports network.

Sunday night’s game produced a 10.8 rating among males 18 to 49, the best of any telecast, broadcast or cable, in the time period. Similarly, the 10.9 among men 25 to 54 set the TV pace in the New York DMA.

YES officials said the game was the highest-rated Yankees/-ed Sox regular-season telecast in the past decade on any New York-market station, besting the 10.8 rating WCBS notched on Sept. 17, 2004. The telecast was the highest-rated Yankees season opener in the past decade, beating the 8.1 rating registered by WCBS on April 8, 2003, for a Yanks-Minnesota Twins game.

While the Yankees were scoring with the Nielsens, the crosstown New York Mets’ season opener Monday against the Cincinnati Reds was a video shutout for Time Warner Cable customers in the New York area.

The game fell victim to an impasse in contract-renewal negotiations between the MSO and Cablevision Systems Corp.-owned Madison Square Garden Network and sister service FSN New York, which have been blacked out since last month. At issue is Time Warner’s reluctance to pay a combined $4 per month fee for MSGN, FSN New York, Fox College Sports and the MetroChannels. For its part, Cablevision wants to turn the negotiations over to an arbitrator, while Time Warner feels that binding arbitration would set a bad precedent for the cable industry. On March 8, Cablevision pulled the signal for the two networks, as well as for Cablevision’s Metro Channels and three Fox College Sports channels, after it failed to renew a distribution deal with the Time Warner.

Area Time Warner Cable customers, however, could listen to the English-language radio broadcast of the game on NBATV, which replaced MSGN on the MSO’s system in Manhattan, and the Spanish-language rendition on CSTV, which supplanted FSNY.

These audio feeds were accompanied by the following message: “Special Note to Time Warner Cable Mets Fans … Time Warner Cable is still the place for Mets fans. You can watch 60 games this season … Here’s where you can see the first 2: April 9 NY Mets@Atlanta Braves 7:05 p. WPIX; April 10 NY Mets @ Atlanta Braves 1:05 p. WPIX. We remain hopeful this situation will be resolved soon and will continue to keep you updated.”

Those words were underlined by a rolling crawl that continually and alternately read: “Audio provided by WFAN. Listen to every Mets game, all season long on Sports Radio 66, New York”… and ”Audio provided by WADO. Listen to every game on WADO 1280 AM, Caso de los Mets.” 

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