Now the games count

They've spent the past few weeks getting ready for the season and even had a couple of minor spring-training setbacks, but now it's time to play games that count. This afternoon, the YES Network takes to the air (or, in this case, cable) with its first official major-league contest: the New York Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles.

Many on the YES staff have been through similar network startups. But Vice President of Programming Mark Rosenweig, who was involved with the launch of CNBC, notes that this launch was different because there was no NBC to fall back on. "This whole effort started in October, and we created our own infrastructure," he says. "So to come as far as we've come is exciting."

The core of the programming for the next few months will be the Yankee games. Production will be handled by Gang Creek Productions, with the YES Network shooting games with 12 cameras.

"What we tried to do was create a blank canvas and then figure out what is the best quality we can deliver for a regional sports network," says Rosenweig.

An interesting aspect of the programming is TV coverage of Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo's afternoon radio talk show, which is heard on WFAN(AM) New York and originates at WFAN's Astoria, Queens, studio. It not only will be similar in style to coverage of Don Imus's morning talk show on MSNBC but will use the same studio and cameras.

The YES Network contacted MSNBC about tapping into the latter's Telemetrics camera-control system so that YES could control the program from its Stamford, Conn., location. The result is that YES pays MSNBC a monthly fee to cover the use of cameras and lighting but purchased its own Telemetrics control systems to be located in Stamford.

Says Rosenweig, "A switch is thrown after the Imus show so that we have control of the cameras in the afternoons."

Other programs will be shot in Manhattan's National Video Center, where YES also has four editing suites: three Avid Symphony suites and one Avid Xpress suite.