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YES Network will no longer be available on YouTube TV


Last week we learned about a carriage rights dispute between Sinclair — which owns the Fox Sports regional sports networks and the Yankees’ YES Network — and YouTube TV, which is a sponsor of Major League Baseball and the service of choice for many cable cord-cutters.

Since then, Sinclair and the Fox Sports regionals have continued to negotiate and, in the meantime anyway, they continue to be able to be viewed on YouTube TV. The same cannot be said for YES Network, however. Indeed, if the press release issued by YES earlier this morning is any indication, negotiations have ended, and ended acrimoniously:

Two takeaways, one significant, one not so significant. First the less-important one.

It’s amazing to me that we are, increasingly, seeing press releases from sophisticated businesses and political figures written in this argumentative and, at times, rather childish tone. I guess if we have come to accept that the president offering official statements in this sort of vernacular, its creep to the business world was inevitable. Oh well.

More importantly: Yankees fans who want to (a) cut the cable cord; and (b) watch the playoffs will now have to subscribe to two services, as YES is available on Hulu, but is not available on YouTube TV, while the opposite is true of MLB Network, which carries the early postseason rounds.

In all of this, some people will blame the company that owns the network while others will blame the carrier. I get that there are arguments for each on this sort of thing and that, ultimately, it’s a financial dispute. But I don’t think fans care about the intricacies of the broadcast business.  They just care that they can or cannot see their team play baseball, and if they cannot, they will, inevitably, care less about their baseball team and support them in a lesser fashion, however you want to define it. In light of that, these sorts of disputes are bad for Major League Baseball as a whole. And perhaps it should consider that as it continues to make its product available to fewer and fewer people.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: