YES Network debuts subscription RSN streaming service

The YES Network is going direct-to-consumer. Today the regional sports network launched its own subscription streaming service that fans in the local coverage territory can sign up for directly to watch games of the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty.

The DTC product, which is available for purchase through the YES app, is priced at $24.99 per month or $239.99 for an annual subscription. For those who sign up through April 30, it’s launching with introductory prices of $19.99 per month or $199.999 per year. The intro price for a monthly subscription is good through the end of 2023. YES Network’s regional coverage territory includes New York State, Connecticut, northeastern Pennsylvania, and north and central New Jersey.

The new service is set to be the exclusive DTC streaming home in YES’ regional coverage area, with CEO Jon Litner saying in a statement that it helps broaden the network’s reach.

“We are pleased to introduce a direct subscription option,” said Litner in a statement. “For more than 20 years, YES has provided fans with a best-in-class sports viewing experience. Fans continue to tune in to and engage with YES in record numbers for the most in-depth and most innovative coverage of our teams and our other award-winning programming. With this new direct-to- consumer offering, we are broadening our reach by making YES available to more fans in our regional footprint than ever before.”

In a December column looking at RSN's bumpy road to streaming, TVREV analyst Alan Wolk called out Major League Baseball in particular as needing "to do everything you can to bring in younger fans" and reach a new audience via streaming. 

"Baseball is increasingly viewed as old-school (and not in a good way) so you need to meet that younger audience where they live," wrote Wolk.

Consumers that get the YES Network through traditional pay TV providers will still be able to stream network via the YES App for free with their service provider credentials. Pay TV providers include Altice’s Optimum, Charter’s Spectrum, Verizon Fios, Comcast’s Xfinity, DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, Blue Ridge Communications and Cox Contour. The YES app is available on a range of systems including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, Apple TV and Samsung. Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, is poised to once again stream 20 regular season games of the New York Yankees at no extra cost to Prime members in the Yankees’ home-team footprint.

The launch by YES is not the first for a direct-to-consumer RSN offering, a distinction that went to the New England Sports Network – home of the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and NHL’s Boston Bruins – which launched NESN 360 last June. Shortly after, Sinclair’s embattled Bally Sports RSNs followed suit, launching the Bally Sports+ DTC offering featuring 19 RSNs. While the Yankees are YES Network’s largest shareholder Sinclair Broadcast also holds a stake. Notably, Sinclair subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, operator of the Bally Sports RSNs filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition this month, seeking to eliminate debt as it reorganizes under court protection and emerge as a standalone company.

In the wider pay TV industry the RSN model has faced pressure as cord-cutting cut into traditional TV viewership and distribution alongside increasing sports licensing costs by leagues. Prior to the bankruptcy filing, Sinclair last year said it was pleased with the early response to the Bally Sports+ DTC product, but hasn’t released specifics on subscribers or metrics.