After a lengthy dispute that actually helped the New York Mets beat the New York Yankees in the ratings for the first time, YES Network is finally back on Comcast.
Normally the way these things work in carriage disputes is that deadlines force a deal to be done. However, that didn’t happen with Comcast and YES this year. As the winter months in early 2016 went on, there wasn’t much pressure to get a deal done until baseball season started. (At least not if you really really really want to watch the Nets.) So when April hit and the Yankees season was set to get underway, past history and logic would say an agreement would be reached. It didn’t. And the dispute lasted for the entire season.
But now YES Network can thank their 21st Century Fox brethren Fox News Channel for an assist in getting carriage. After a high-profile dispute between Fox News and Comcast that threatened an outage for the highly-watched cable news channel, a deal was reached that also included carriage for YES Network.
Details from the Wall Street Journal:
Comcast distributes YES primarily in New Jersey. One of the most popular regional sports networks, YES costs an average of $5.36 per-month, per-subscriber, according to SNL Kagan. The channel also telecasts Brooklyn Nets basketball. YES was seeking to reach close to $6 in its next deal with Comcast, according to people familiar with the talks.
While the price tag is steep, that wasn’t the primary issue of the dispute, people involved in the matter have said. Instead the rift had to do with contract language involving so-called “most-favored nation” clauses designed to ensure a distributor that a channel won’t strike a better deal with a rival.
“We always said that we would continue to evaluate whether there was a way to bring back the YES Network under terms that are consistent with our commitment to providing the best programming at the best possible price,” Comcast said in a statement, adding that the new agreement makes sense for both companies and “most importantly, our customers.”
Although there is an accord on YES, it won’t immediately return to Comcast subscribers. The channel will likely not be back until after the baseball season starts in the spring, people with knowledge of the pact said.
It’s really interesting that the actual baseball season couldn’t get YES and Comcast to the table, but the dangling of Fox News Channel being on the chopping block could. Given FNC’s insane ratings, especially in the midst of an insane election cycle, that could be understood.
Perhaps it has a bit to do with the success of the Yankees in the last year. Were the Yankees still in the midst of their dynasty years you could bet that YES Network would have a lot more leverage in the situation and there would be a lot more fan outcry about the situation. But with the Yankees finishing 4th in the AL East in spite of a 84-78 record, maybe there wasn’t quite the sense of urgency there could have been.
Nevertheless, YES is finally back on Comcast and those subscribers will be able to watch the pinstripes in action once again.