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FiOS Rolls Out YES ‘National'-ly In HD

The YES Network is going "national" on Verizon FiOS.

The regional sports network has reached a multiyear deal for the telco to carry the service -- sans its coverage of New York Yankees and New Jersey Nets games -- across the nation on the FiOS TV Extreme HD service at no extra charge to subscribers. Terms were not disclosed.

As such, YES Network will become the first RSN in the country available to all FiOS TV markets via channel 595 to Extreme HD subscribers outside of YES's home markets throughout New York state and in northern and central New Jersey.

Earlier this month, what executives inside the network call "YES national" rolled out to Bright House Network subscribers in Tampa, home of the Yankees training facility and spring training complex. Moreover, the service will become available in Orlando and central Florida unit in May, according to YES senior vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Matt Cacciato.

Bright House's launch of the service, Cacciato said, comes through a deal YES reached with Time Warner Cable in late March. The nation's No. 2 cable operator, which negotiates programming deals for Bright House, will launch YES national on its systems in North and South Carolina in late summer.

It also follows YES's separate FiOS pact announced last week that offers Yankees games and other programming on-demand within the RSN's territory. Cacciato said YES is talking to carriers including Cablevision, Time Warner and Comcast in the New York DMA, about adding the VOD games package.

As for the YES national pact, FiOS customers outside of YES's Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association territorial coverage areas will see the network's feed offering such Bronx Bombers-related fare as Yankees Batting Practice Today, bio series Yankeeography, the weekly manager series, The Joe Girardi Show, Yankees Magazine, Yankees Classics games, Yankees Hot Stove and the Emmy-winning kids show, Yankees on Deck.

In addition, interview show CenterStage, hosted by Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay, andMike'D Up: Francesa on the FAN, the weekday simulcast of the popular radio show with Mike Francesa are also available on FiOS TV Extreme HD service.

"Adding YES programming in HD to our lineup is part of our commitment to giving FiOS TV subscribers the highest quality and best content there is, delivering the ultimate high-definition home-entertainment experience," said Terry Denson, vice president FiOS TV content and programming, in a statement. "Verizon FiOS TV is the best place to watch sports, and with the YES Network available in all markets, fans can catch up on America's favorite pastime and baseball's most popular, storied team."

Cacciato said the national service's appeal is three-fold: interest in the Yankees by fans and/or displaced New Yorkers; the strength of the YES brand; and the network's programming.

As to the latter, Cacciato said YES's simulcast of Francesa's show weekdays from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. resonates across the country.
"Mike's show is topical and not only focuses on New York, but sports across the nation," Cacciato said, adding that CenterStage also transcends Big Apple boundaries. ‘Michael keeps getting better and better guests."
Cacciato said the national service has been available on DirecTV since YES's launch in 2002 and with AT&T U-verse since 2006. (The service is dark during live game and encore windows on DirecTV and AT&T, while FiOS subscribers will see an alternate package encompassing both current and library fare at those times.)

Now, the network is beginning to look for more distribution plays

"We're making a more active push and talking to everybody. We expect to have more deals done within next 12 to 24 months," said Cacciato, noting it's "incumbent on us" to speak with Bright House executives in Birmingham and Bakersfield and get the service rolled out into the operator's other markets.

Cacciato views the service as one that can "jump-start" a sports digital tier or become part of secondary, tertiary levels of digital service, along with other sports networks.