The Tuesday Discussion: Streaming Yankees... Good or Bad?
June 7, 2022
This week we asked our writers:
Last weekend, fans who don't have streaming services were shut out of the games on Friday and Sunday. The games were actually on two different streaming services.
How do you feel about this? Is this a good or a bad thing for the fans?
Here are their responses:
Chris O'Connor - I think that this is a bad thing for the fans. While streaming is clearly the way of the future, it seems to me from personal experience that there are two reasons that people stick with traditional cable: news channels (ABC, NBC, even FOX News and CNN) and live sports. These games that are put on these streaming sites are clearly designed to get people to buy these streaming bundles, but live sports is one of the major reason to actually not cut the cord in the first place. There is something comforting about, day in and day out, tuning into YES network and listening to Michael Kay and a team of analysts call the game. While I do like mixing it up every now and then for nationally televised games, needing to buy a streaming service just to watch one game every few weeks or so it just incredibly inconvenient for the fans.
James Vlietstra - Baseball is, by far, my favorite sport. Out of 162 games I probably consume at least part of 140+. However I am very active. I work long hours and I play softball and my kids play baseball. There’s not a lot of days that I sit down on my couch and watch a 9 inning game. I’m usually catching updates in my truck or stopping by a sports bar that has it on.
So to me, if it’s on a streaming service that I don’t have downloaded, I personally have been putting it on Alexa and listening to it while doing other things. Not the end of the world to me.
If it’s growing the game by making it available to other people that might not have watched it or is bringing in extra revenue, then so be it.
In the mid to late 80s, MSG was a pay cable channel up here in upstate NY so if the Yankees weren’t on WPIX, the only way I could follow the Yankees was via radio. Hank Greenwald, Tommy Hutton, Jay Johnstone, John Sterling and later Michael Kay were the voices of summer. I got very accustomed long ago to listening to games. Quite honestly, John Sterling still being on the air is probably a very comforting feeling.
At this point I have probably listened to several times more games than I have watched so to me, It really doesn’t upset me to not be able to watch it.
Tamar Chalker - I haven’t lived in Yankees’ territory since I was in middle school and I’ve spent a significant amount of that time deep in Red Sox land, so I’ve depended on streaming to watch for almost 20 years now. Of course, that meant I got blacked out of Yankees-Red Sox games, but those aren’t that exciting, right? Anyway, it wasn’t a big deal to have it on other streaming platforms for me as I do use those platforms anyway. Honestly, I don’t feel like it’s different than having games on Fox vs ESPN vs YES vs tbs.
As far as whether it is good for fans - it expands the game’s reach and may make it more accessible to younger fans, which they haven’t always been good at. Today people are far more likely to move away from where they grew up, so I think streaming makes more and more sense - especially with teams like the Yankees, as their fan base is all over the world, but also for those smaller market teams. Anything that MLB can do to make the game more accessible to fans - particularly younger fans - is going to pay off in the long run.
Paul Semendinger - I hate it. It doesn't bring the game to more fans, it takes the game away from loyal fans. Last weekend I had free time on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. I couldn't watch the Yankees because they were put on services I don't have. I'm also not going to subscribe to a bunch of different services just to watch the Yankees, free or not, but most aren't free.
The YES Network was sold to the fans as THE place for the Yankees. It no longer is.
The Yankees and MLB are charging the same customers two and three times for the same product. It's ugly. It's wrong.
If the Yankees want to go to streaming services for younger fans or to grow the sport, they can, but offer it for free. Imagine that. Imagine if the team cared enough about growing the sport to do it for free. Oh, wait, they don't care that much about growing the sport.
Cary Greene - I think what the Yankees are doing is making it harder to watch games and so lot's of fans are either not watching or tuning in on the radio while doing other things. This is bad for the Yankees. Kids need video content or they are unlikely to be interested. Most younger adults also fall into this boat.
The Yankees have sabotaged themselves and their popularity is diminishing because of it. No one is watching. Who in their right mind would spend the money to access content distributed by multiple pay-walls? What the Yankees are doing, which in my book is called "gouging" is probably hurting cable TV sales also. Why bother paying $200-plus a month when you can watch highlights on Twitter and listen to the radio for free?
Hey Yankees - way to lose your fanbase! Good luck getting them back.
Mike Whiteman - I subscribe to the MLB package, so I watch Yankee games on my phone/computer.
I do this as I do not live in the YES viewing area, so in theory anything streaming as opposed to local is good for me. That in a nutshell is what I think is behind this - growing the Yankee brand. You in the New York (in general, there are certainly exceptions) area are longtime loyal Yankee fans who won't be switching allegiances to the Mets or Red Sox, and will keep paying for YES and game tickets and Yankeewear as you are reasonably able. They know this.
Baseball fans in other parts of the country, or of the world are the new frontier, a source of untapped resources.
Is it good? Kinda depends on where you are. When I was a kid I used to listen to the Yanks on a fuzzy transistor radio and watched them only when they were on Game of the Week. I would have given anything to watch a game every week. Best case scenario would be for the Yankees to grant access to BOTH local and out of the area coverage, but that's not happening anytime soon. I think this is just the beginning of the relationship between baseball and streaming services.