YES Network, Despite Streaming Blackout, Claims Best Opening Week in Nine Years

Aaron Kee/ESPN Images
(Image credit: Aaron Kee/ESPN Images)

YES Network said Friday that it has averaged about 391,000 viewers for each of its first six telecasts during the opening week of the 2021 baseball season, its best showing since 2012 and comes despite being blacked out by a trio of streaming services.

YES Network has been without carriage on three top streaming services -- YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV and FuboTV for months. The regional sports network, which airs New York Yankees baseball games in the New York metro area, cited Nielsen ratings for the New York DMA. According to YES, it was the RSN’s best opening week since 2012, when Nielsen said it averaged 416,000 viewers for the first week of that season. 

That news comes after YES said its Opening Day game between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays broke streaming records for the channel. YES said its April 1 telecast of the game attracted 543,000 total viewers, including 72,739 unique viewers to its authenticated YES app. That made it the most streamed live game on the network ever, either on its recently launched YES app or its predecessor Fox Sports GO. 

Also Read: Bally Sports RSNs Strike Out with Streamers on Opening Day

YES went dark to YouTube TV and Hulu Live Plus TV customers in October. FuboTV dropped the channel in January. The Yankees network is available via traditional distributors like Comcast, Charter Communications, Altice USA’s Optimum, DirecTV and Verizon Fios in the New York metro area.  

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns a minority interest in YES and has been negotiating carriage talks for that channel as well as 21 former Fox Sports RSNs. Those former Fox sports channels -- rebranded under the Bally Sports name on March 31 --  also are not available on the streaming services, but Sinclair officials have said they are trying to work on a deal. 

Also Read: RSNs Scramble for Streaming Deals as Opening Day Approaches

The lack of streaming RSN programming isn’t limited to the Bally Sports Networks and YES. Sling TV, the OTT arm of satellite TV service Dish Network, which dropped the former Fox Sports RSNs in 2019, has been without Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), home of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, and three NBC Sports RSNs (NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California) since April 1.

Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.