YES Extends Run as Top RSN in Total-Day to a Decade

The YES Network capped its 10th anniversary by finishing as the most-watched regional sports network in the country on total-day basis for a 10th straight year.

The cable television home of MLB’s New York Yankees and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets also closed the year as the most-watched RSN in primetime (Monday-Sunday from 7 p.m.-11 p.m.) for the eighth time in its history, racking up gains in key demos and in such outer markets as Hartford-New Haven, as well as Binghamton, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo. New York.

Gauged on a total-day basis (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.), YES averaged 27,000 households in the New York DMA during the 2012 broadcast year, compared with 30,000 in 2011, according to Nielsen data. The RSN finished 37% ahead of the 17,000 average registered by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. NESN (16,000), FS Detroit (16,000) and MSG (15,000) rounded out the top 5 in the measure. YES’s total-day delivery was only slightly less than two other New York RSNs -- MSG and SNY -- combined total of 29,000.

In primetime, YES averaged 68,000 households in the New York DMA, equaling its 2011 mark, to top CSN Philadelphia (55,000), MSG (50,000) NESN and FS Detroit (both with 48,000). YES improved in 2012 among males 18 to 34 by 12%, guys 18 to 49 (16%), men 25 to 54 (7%), persons 18 to 34 (8%) and persons 18 to 49 (10%).

“The Yankees were in the playoffs for nine of those ten seasons and they have such a loyal fan base,” said YES president and CEO Tracy Dolgin, when asked about the RSN’s ratings performance in 2012 and throughout the past decade.

To that end, Yankees' telecasts on YES averaged 290,000 households in the New York DMA last year, 74% more than SNY’s Mets' telecasts, which averaged 167,000 households. All told, 67 Bronx Bombers’ telecasts drew a 4.0 rating or better in the 2012 season, compared with just three Mets’ games on SNY, according to Nielsen data. Demo deliveries for Yankees' games on YES increased by 11% among males 18 to 49.

YES also has started to count Nielsen benefits from the revamped Brooklyn Nets. Through Jan. 13, Nets’ telecasts jumped more than 150% to a 76,000-household average from the New Jersey Nets’ 30,000 average during the 2011-12 season. Demo growth has been even stronger, fueled by half of the 32 telecasts to date averaging at least a 1.0 DMA rating. The last time the RSN recorded such a performance that strong with the Nets came during their 2005-06 campaign.

(Last night’s Nets-Toronto Raptors’ telecast was the second-most-viewed NBA game ever on YES, dunking a 1.96 rating for an average of 202,000 total viewers in the New York DMA, behind only the Nets-Miami Heat telecast  on Dec. 1, 2012, which scored 242,000 total watchers. Seventeen of the team’s telecasts have now exceeded the 1.0 mark.)

“The Nets have built a good, exciting team. They’ve done a nice job of branding with all the hats and jerseys you see people wearing around town,” said Dolgin. “YES was a year-round RSN with a low-rated winter team, but that’s definitely changing. It’s good for basketball that New York is becoming a two-team market.”

As mentioned, YES also scored beyond its core New York DMA. For example, during the May 2012 and July 2012 sweeps periods, YES household ratings outperformed SNY’s Mets' telecasts by 250% in Binghamton and 483% in Syracuse.

During 2012, YES’s combined total-day average of 32,000 households in the three metered markets of New York, Buffalo and Hartford-New Haven within its footprint was more than MSG (16,000) and SNY (14,000) combined. In primetime, YES notched 78,000 households, versus 54,000 for MSG and 41,000 for SNY.

Pointing out that national carriers ESPN, TBS and Fox always grab their full allotment of Yankees' telecasts, Dolgin said the franchise's popularity extends far and wide. “You don’t see the drop-off in ratings you do with other clubs beyond their home-team markets. In Buffalo, the Yankees are the team, even though the city is much closer to Detroit and Toronto," he said. "That’s what makes the Yankees different.”

Looking ahead, Dolgin sees an even stronger performance for YES in 2013. The Nets’ resurgence aside, YES will not face the power of the London Olympics. “We took a hit during those two weeks. With the Yankees, we usually win the night with males. But there certainly was a passionate audience for the Summer Games,” said Dolgin.

More importantly, he believes the upcoming MLB campaign with the introduction of season-long interleague action and the prospects of a highly competitive American League East should boost ratings.

“We had really good ratings in September as the [Baltimore] Orioles really pressed the Yankees,” he said. “I think fans recognize that the games against Baltimore and Toronto are going to be important. The Yankees open with Boston, play Detroit and Cleveland, then there are the Orioles, the [Arizona] Diamondbacks, [Colorado], Toronto and Tampa. It’s going to be an exciting season.”