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On Tue, 13 Nov 2001 18:43:33  
 Sean Smyth wrote:
>Maybe some of the New York folk have heard something on this.
>What is the clearance like for the new YES (Yankees Entertainment System)
>Network that George Steinbrenner is putting together? I'm curious,
>especially since Cablevision owns a good deal of the systems in the NYC
>area. (For those who don't know, Cablevision, Madison Square Garden Network
>and FOX Sports New York are commonly controlled by Charles Dolan.) Could the
>elimination of the Yankees from MSG and the Nets and Devils from FOX Sports
>NY force those two networks to merge? That would leave MSG/FSNY with the
>Mets, Knicks, Rangers and Islanders, far too little programming I think to
>sustain two networks. (Both networks sometimes air the same programming
>during late AM/early afternoon time slots.)
>Any insights from people in NYC would be appreciated.

There shouldn't be any problem with clearance of YES on
Cablevision, AOL TW or Comcast systems in the tri-state area when it launches on March 1. As of now(17 weeks before the launch), there's no deal with any of the cable operators because, as expected, they're bargaining hard. When the dust settles, and the spinning ends, all the cable cats will cut deals with YES. Cable cats want to negotiate a price that makes sense knowing that keeping the Yankees off a cable system would not be good for their business. These kind of ransom tricks may work in other markets but not in NYC. No one would dare to keep the Yankees of their cable system.  (YES wants about 2 bucks per sub on the basic tier; MSG and FSNY are bundled for $3.60 per sub -- clearly overpriced now that the Yanks said goodbye after a 13-year run).

Also, keep in mind that YES is partly(40%) owned by very savyy media group who know the cable business better than anyone -- YES' CEO is former TCI and AT&T cable guru Leo Hindery(he's also former Cablevision borad member and very good friend of the Dolans(Jr and Sr.), Amos Hostetter Jr(cable zillionaire who's originally up from the Boston area if I'm not mistaken) and Goldman Sachs, which is a very media-focused investment house. YankeesNets owns the other 60% of YES.

YES will have about 125-130 games Yankees games; about 20-25 will be on CBS2 for next 3 years; 9-12 will be split between FOX Network(Saturday's game of the week) and ESPN(exclusive Sunday Night Baseball). NJ Nets games will be added for the 2002-3 season, with Devils games becoming available for 2007-8. YES will also show England's storied soccer superclub Manchester United's games. They're under enormous  pressure to fill the time with more than Yankee games and their pregame and postgame programs. I hear that they're making deals for high school, college and minor league games; building programs around the Yankees' archives, creating studio and news shows; possibly creating a relationship with ESPNews; starting up regional 'lifestyle' programs and selling infomercials...

So, for Steinbrenner, the pot is in the market. But just how much gold will fill it is open to
question. It takes big moolah to start a network. Add to the poor economy the fact baseball may be faced with labor problems next season and you can say that, in the short term, Steinbrenner is rolling the dice. 
YES is expected to generate about the same amount for the Yanks as MSG did -- $52 million per season.