Via Bob Raissman -
The Yankees’ current path of austerity (wasn’t it supposed to start in 2014 with the luxury-tax thing?) is made even more curious considering the pile of dough the Yankees are sitting on (over and above what they were already sitting on) after Fox purchased a 49% stake in YES last month for $2 billion. Not only do the Yankees get a slice of that pie, but another $420 million from Fox to nail down TV rights to Yankees games on YES through 2042.
Add to that the cool $52 million per year the Yankees will begin collecting in 2014, their cut of Major League Baseball’s new eight-year TV deal with Fox, ESPN and Turner, and that’s some major moolah the organization seems reluctant to spend on acquiring players.
If the Yankees keep tightening the purse strings and it eventually translates into a diminished product, the live gate will suffer. So will YES’ ratings. Even with a successful 2012 on the field, the Yankees averaged a 3.92 rating on YES, down 8.3% from 2011 and the network’s lowest Bombers household rating since 2003. If YES experienced this kind of slippage when the team was good, what happens to the ratings if the team goes south?
It’s reasonable to wonder what the level of concern over all this is for Hal and We Are Family Steinbrenner. They view the Yankees in a more business-like manner than their father did. Their goal may just be to squeeze every nickel out of the franchise and start selling off assets. If you’re in it strictly for the money, and not World Series titles, that blueprint has a major upside for the owners.
Just look at the cash they already pocketed in the YES deal with Fox. And in three years Fox has the option to buy 80% of YES, based on a valuation of $3.8 billion.
What’s next, the team itself? Yankee officials say that won’t happen.
So, maybe when it comes to the product on the field, and its ramifications for YES’ future, it’s Fox suits who should be concerned if Hal Steinbrenner keeps a lock on his pinstriped vault.
“If this so-called fiscal responsibility becomes a permanent policy, Fox has something to be concerned with,” one network executive said. “YES became what it is because it sells winning, superstars and the grand Yankee tradition. If two-thirds of the equation (winning/superstars) disappears, down go the ratings and revenue. The subscriber fees may stay flat, but if the product stinks those fees are not going up.”
Maybe it’s too early to be concerned about this? But, maybe not? For sure, over the next three seasons, as each year passes, we will get a better idea on where the “After Big Stein” Yankees are heading…