In-game chats with Jim Kaat? Oh, boy, I hope Kitty knows what he’s getting into…
Via the Sports Business Journal -
The YES Network this week plans to relaunch its Web site, with the enhanced online presence influenced significantly by a new three-year agreement with MLB Advanced Media.
While there is no leaguewide agreement yet on live in-market streaming of games — an issue that has been actively debated within baseball for several years — YES’s moves are emblematic of regional sports networks seeking to maximize their online profiles within the current framework.
The new-look yesnetwork.com will feature three video highlights per game, up from two in the prior accord with MLBAM; a new design that resembles MLB.com and the Yankees.com team site; an extensive series of text and video blogs from both network personnel and outside sources such as the River Ave. Blues blog; and greatly expanded social-networking capabilities.
“We want this to be a complement to Yankees.com,” said Michael Spirito, YES vice president of business development and digital media. “We certainly don’t want to duplicate what they’re doing and think we can bring forth a lot more content and value to the fans.”
Despite the anemic advertising market, YES sold several title-sponsor deals for the updated site, including Chevrolet returning for a player-of-the-game segment, and Papa John’s and Avis buying into text-messaging functions supported by YES and MLBAM.
Financial terms of the YES-MLBAM pact were not disclosed, but the deal includes revenue-sharing provisions.
Other new content initiatives for the YES site include a weekly video feature that explores the intersection of sports and entertainment culture, and in-game chats with former YES announcer Jim Kaat.
“The idea is to go way beyond just that [Derek] Jeter went two-for-three last night, and have a full range of experiences,” said Kevin Sullivan, yesnetwork.com managing editor.
YES Network is not alone in retooling its Web site. Other RSNs have been similarly active over the winter, ramping up for the 2009 baseball season.
SportsNet New York: New interactive elements for the RSN, home to the New York Mets, include an online, postgame radio call-in show; several Twitter feeds designed to exploit the exponential rise of that real-time social-networking platform; and expanded analytical coverage both in video and text form. SNY also holds a deal with MLBAM that grants it use of two online video highlights per game, and a video-sharing deal for non-game material with the New York Daily News extends the network’s reach to the newspaper Web site.
SNY, seeking to take on a more universally New York tone than some of its local competitors, also last fall added a second prominent Yankees-related blog, Bronx Banter, to its emerging blog network. The blog joins Yankees-themed WasWatching.com on the site.
“We’ve always endeavored to be the home of New York sports and never simply a Mets network,” said Fred Harner, SNY general manager of digital media. “You’ll see us as the season begins and evolves continue to expand our coverage of the Yankees and the other teams in town.”
NESN, MASN: Each of these two team-controlled RSNs, whose owners have been among the more active and vocal on the online streaming issue, will broaden and deepen their pre- and postgame content, with on-air and studio personalities such as Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice and Buck Martinez contributing regular segments, and behind-the-scenes and feature material also targeted for significant expansion. Neither NESN, serving New England, nor MASN in the mid-Atlantic corridor, holds game highlights deals with MLBAM, but each will trade heavily on its extensive access to players, managers and coaches.