Comcast - dropped YES Network loses ratings war to SNY; Fox hires forrner Comcast RSN chief to run YES

Tom Paine

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Comcast took a good deal of heat over the past baseball season for not carrying the YES Network, on which Yankee games are seen, to its nearly 1 million New York area subscribers, citing cost and lack of viewer interest.

Comcast was proven correct in a sense, as SNY, cable home of the Mets, finished the regular season as baseball’s most-watched regional sports network, beating out YES for the first time since the two networks began competing against each other in 2006. SNY said in a statement that its Mets games outdrew the Yankees on YES by about 20% on average. Of course, presumably the YES ratings were negatively impacted to a small extent by Comcast's lack of carriage.

Comcast owns a minority stake in SNY, which is majority-owned by the family which controls the Mets. Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. owns a majority stake (80%) in YES, while the Yankees own the rest.

Ironically, FOX Sports in September named Jon Litner President of the YES Network. Most recently, Litner had been President of Comcast's NBC Sports Group, responsible for the eight NBC Regional Sports Networks and the Golf Channel.

There is a possibility that there may eventually be some territory realignment among Comcast, Charter (Time Warner Cable), and Altice (Cablevision) now that the latter two's deals are complete, in which Comcast would surrender its New York area properties for a price or more Comcast-contiguous properties, though there has been no indication that any such discussions are forthcoming.

Charter inherited a minority stake in SNY through its TWC acquisition.

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