From 2013-2016, the New York Yankees were about as unspectacular as an MLB team could be. Behind a lineup full of veterans on the wrong side of their primes, the Yankees averaged 85 wins a year and appeared in exactly one playoff game.
This year, however, the Yankees are 33-23, the second best record in the American League, and they’ve accomplished that record in part thanks to a cadre of young and exciting stars: Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and, of course, Aaron Judge. In a very short time, the Yankees have gone from a dull, average team to an exciting and successful one.
The team’s ratings on YES Network reflect that switch. Bigly.
According to the network, viewership this season has risen by about 50 percent (from 232,000 average viewers per game to 347,000), as has the average household rating (2.37 to 3.54). By just about every measure, YES’ Yankees broadcasts are off to their highest rated start to the season since 2012.
Even better for YES, there’s been an upward trajectory to the ratings rise. The Yankees entered the season with modest expectations, but as the team got off to a hot start viewership spikes. YES says ratings grew by 9 percent just from April to May.
The most obvious reason for the climb in ratings, besides the team being better and more watchable, is YES’ new deal with Comcast. Due to a dispute over subscriber fees, the cable company did not carry the network during the 2016 season, leaving loads of Yankee fans without access to most games.
News of YES’ soaring viewership takes most of the sting out of weak attendance at Yankee Stadium, which became a subject of debate last month following a New York Times report. Given that sports teams make far more money through television deals than through gate receipts, the Yankees (who own a stake in YES) can’t be too upset with slightly low attendance while the TV viewers are flocking en masse.
The Yankees’ ratings boost comes less than a year after SNY, which broadcasts the Mets, outdrew YES for the first time ever.
The Yankees should remain competitive for the rest of the season and are extremely well-positioned for success in the future, with Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier in-house, plus a ton of cash to spend on the loaded 2018 free-agent class. It might be quite a while before YES Network has to fret about ratings again.