Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why the Yankees online stream deal is all wrong

It’s bad enough that sports ticket prices have skyrocketed to the point of pricing many fans out of the ballpark, literally. To me it explains why the ratings for most post-season telecasts have increased even more within the past year. Fans are starting to become content with watching the best games on the tube.

Yet, the pro sports teams continue to overlook the fact that millions of sports fans are already paying for cable or satellite TV, which also has increased its prices because of the cost the cable companies force upon us in order to pay the networks which carry the games and indirectly the teams for the rights fees.

Now comes this announcement that Cablevision internet subscribers will soon be able to see Yankees games shown on YES Network via their computer. I do not live in the New York area and can’t subscribe to YES (even though I believe I should have that option through ANY cable company anywhere in the U.S.), but I started thinking this is a positive. There are times when I do not have access to cable but do have online available and this could be a way to follow my favorite team.

Until the hammer hits. Subscribers would have to pay $49.95 EXTRA to have this feature for the rest of the season. Say what? I thought that Cablevision customers were ALREADY paying a hefty sum to receive these channels, including a group they don’t even want. Now they would have to pay even more to watch a channel they are already paying for.

While others around the region who cannot or do not subscribe to Cablevision internet do not have any online option. I’m here to tell you the powers that be have this reversed.

If I were already a Cablevision internet subscriber eligible for this package, I would expect to have it available at no additional cost. Again, I would already be paying to receive YES and whatever other channels I am forced to take. Why does it matter HOW I watch what I am paying for?

This venture should be addressed to Yankees fans (and baseball fans for that matter) who are not able to take Cablevision internet, whether they are in the NYC area or not. This venture would make perfect sense if, for example, a Yankees fan now living in Florida could spend the $49.95 and be able to watch all Yankees games shown on YES for the remainder of the season. Now, Cablevision is providing him with an optional service he is willing to pay for. But as of now, it cannot happen.

You can’t tell me that advertisers, which add to YES’ income, wouldn’t jump at the chance to reach an exact number of out of area subscribers to Yankees telecasts, and that this wouldn’t become still another revenue stream for the Yankees.

The argument to this is that Major League Baseball has its MLB-TV online package available across the country, and a package such as this for the Yankees and hopefully other teams would be competition. My problem with MLB-TV, as it is currently structured, is that their online package does not include every televised game. It boggles the mind that customers to a special online national package are still subject to local blackouts.

I continue to emphasize that if I am paying additional to receive programming, I should be able to receive everything which is available. Simply put, if I want to watch the opposing team’s telecast or a national telecast instead of the local one I am “forced” to watch, it should be my choice, since it is my money. If the local telecast is that good, I would choose it over another. But I deserve to have that choice.

Let’s hope the Cablevision folks learn a lesson from this announcement. It would give more fans the chance to count the empty seats in the background of the online telecasts.

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