It’s the latest dispute between a content provider and a cable company, this time Comcast vs. Fox and once again, viewers are caught in the middle. Comcast and Fox have been negotiating carriage for the YES Network in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for much of the year and finally the drop dead date for talks expired at midnight today. Thus, YES is blacked out on Comcast systems in the affected areas.
The agreement for YES actually expired earlier this year when the New York Yankees were in season and the two sides reached various temporary agreements to keep the network going so as not to interrupt baseball viewing. But now with the Brooklyn Nets on and with the team off to a horrid 2-9 start affecting ratings, Comcast felt it had some leverage. In fact, ratings for the Nets are so low, they aren’t in the same neighborhood as the crosstown Knicks on MSG:
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) November 17, 2015
Comcast issued this extremely terse statement in regards to YES downplaying viewership for the network even during baseball season:
“YES Network carried approximately 130 baseball games this past season and well over 90 percent of our 900,000 plus customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those games during the season, even while the Yankees were in the hunt for a playoff berth. Viewership of the network in the baseball offseason is even lower. Fox and the Yankees are asking all of our customers to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years to continue receiving the channel. The price Fox and the Yankees are requiring from our customers is not acceptable given the network’s minimal viewership, which is why we have decided we can no longer justify continuing to carry the Network. YES simply does not present an appropriate price-value proposition for our customers.”
Of course, YES has countered with its own microsite encouraging Comcast subscribers to find another cable or satellite provider.
So this fight is just in its early stages. With the Nets playing and no Yankees games until March, this dispute could go on for a while. We’ll see how long it goes and how nasty the rhetoric will become.