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:
YouTube TV has dropped the YES Network. pic.twitter.com/RxVgSIjQsR
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 5, 2020
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.