As the Brooklyn Nets establish the franchise in the New York City borough, regional sports channel YES Network is experiencing ad-sales gains and expects to grow its basketball ratings alongside the reborn National Basketball Association team.
Fifty-five years after Major League Baseball’s Dodgers bailed on Brooklyn for Los Angeles, the entire city is embracing the pro-hoops squad, as evidenced by the many folks walking around the Big Apple with the Nets’ new black and white colors and logo. The new designs were created by rapper and mogul Jay- Z, a part owner in the club, who ushered in the new Barclays Center arena on Atlantic Avenue with a recent series of concerts.
The profile of the team, which had played in New Jersey for the past 35 years, is also on the rise across the country, via NBA TV docuseries The Association and 17 contests that will air on national outlets TNT, ESPN and NBA TV in 2012-13 and and point guard Deron Williams appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview issue under the headline “Brooklyn Rising.”.
YES, the regional-sports network home of the New York Yankees, will televise the Nets’ first home preseason game against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 15. YES is already seeing the benefit of the Nets’ relocation on Madison Avenue.
While senior vice president of ad sales Howard Levinson reports that YES is in the process of finalizing deals with other clients, Verizon Wireless, Verizon FiOS, Cadillac, GEICO, Nissan and, not surprisingly, Barclays will all expand their presence on Nets’ game telecasts this season.
The New York State Lottery is now a part of YES’s account roster, too, thanks to the Nets’ relocation.
The RSN is also upping the ante relative to providing enhanced coverage via additional cameras and the incorporation of fans’ social media tweets and Facebook postings, as well as its institutional Twitter feed — @ YESNetwork —throughout all of its Nets programming.
All this should result in an uptick with the Nielsens. “We expect the ratings to increase significantly this season, due to the improved roster and the excitement surrounding the move to Brooklyn,” a network spokesman said.
During the 2011-12 NBA season, YES averaged a 0.4 rating in the New York DMA with its Nets’ telecasts.
Woody Freiman, YES’s vice president of production and programming, said Ian Eagle will return as the principal play-by-play man, and will call between 50 and 55 games. Ryan Ruocco will add some games to his schedule. Veterans Mike Fratello and Jim Spanarkel are back as analysts.
Ed Delaney, senior vice president of broadcast operations and engineering, said YES has always been charged with treating “every Nets game as if it’s a playoff game … so that’s been our mantra. We’ve always been out there with a lot of hardware.”
YES’s Nets telecasts this year will continue to include 10 cameras for home games, a super slo-mo, and robotics behind each basket and on the scoreboard. They will add the NBA debut of an improved YESMo, the ultra slow-mo, high-definition camera, for which the RSN’s Yankees telecasts won an Emmy in 2011.
YES’s first regular-season gamecast is slated for Nov. 3 against Toronto, but subscribers can watch pre- and post-game shows flanking the club’s Nov. 1 opener against the New York Knicks on TNT.
That will also mark the first time viewers will get a look at a new graphics package for openings and bumpers YES is creating in conjunction with the Nets and M Factor, the Los Angeles-based creative design firm that also produced new looks for the RSN’s Yankees coverage in 2010.
Creative design director Rick Deutschman previewed some of the new graphics with animated depictions of players passing the ball around such Brooklyn landmarks as Coney Island, Grand Army Plaza, brownstomes and the Atlantic Avenue subway stop before joining together at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and then morphing into the Nets logo.
“In all my years of building graphics or watching sports, I have never seen painted characters like this,” Deutschman said. “So this is very different.”
He said it was challenging to work around the black and white colors at the beginning. “We’re introducing a couple of tones around it. We didn’t want it to look like black and white television.”
Although it will not feature a composition from Jay-Z, who also helped design the arena’s new “vault” suites and 40/40 restaurant, YES is working on assembling Nets theme music that Freiman said will reflect “a gritty, urban feel.”
YES Network hopes viewers and advertisers will believe the hype surrounding the move of pro basketball’s Nets to Brooklyn.