Why SNY isn’t joining YES-MSG direct-to-consumer team-up yet

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



With the agreement between YES and MSG to partner to form Gotham Advanced Media and Entertainment, the Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, Nets, Islanders, Devils and Liberty potentially could be available under one roof one day.

So what about the Mets and SNY?

Though there were talks about partnering with their regional sports rivals, SNY for now is going it alone and is in no rush to start a direct-to-consumer product.

It is still not out of the question for 2024, but as the calendar turns to February and spring training, it appears increasingly unlikely SNY and the Mets will have a DTC product this baseball season.

Let’s go through what is going on in the direct-to-consumer local space.

1. SNY is different from YES or MSG because of its ownership setup, which includes cable behemoths Comcast and Charter. For that reason, it can negotiate favorable and long-term deals for its rights. This is one of the reasons it has not been in as big of a rush to move in the DTC space.

2. SNY also is available on lower-cost, cable-lite products, such as Hulu, Fubo and DirecTV Stream. So if Mets fans want a lower-cost option after cutting the cord, they do have it with SNY included. YES and MSG are on DirecTV Stream, and MSG is also available through Fubo.

YES Network broadcasts of Aaron Judge and the Yankees are available to cord-cutters. Getty Images

3. The YES and MSG combo is just the beginning of what is expected to happen in the direct-to-consumer space. The Great Rebundling of programming is on the horizon.

Though most of us hated our cable companies for years due to their terrible customer service, it did provide a one-stop shopping. For fans, teams and leagues, the inability to find all your teams’ games in one place makes for a long-term bad experience. If teams make it difficult for viewers, they will find other things to do. With a TikTok generation, which may be satiated by highlights rather than watching a full game, teams and leagues need to figure out how to make it less cumbersome.

4. We have reported ESPN, the whole enchilada, will be a direct-to-consumer product by 2025 with an outside chance of hitting the market late this year. To be clear, ESPN will remain on cable as well. Because of the amount of rights that ESPN owns, its full DTC product could have an impact. ESPN is not looking to go it alone. They have had talks about partnering with top digital players — think: Apple, Amazon, etc. — as well as major sports leagues.

5. Both YES and MSG launched their direct-to-consumer products alone over the past year, and realized partnering up may be a better option. One issue is churn. If you are just subscribing to watch a certain team’s games, say the Knicks, you can just cancel after their season finishes. Worse for the networks, if your team is doing poorly, fans may cut the service earlier. With the cable bundle, few consumers made decisions based on individual teams or certain games. So subscribers may pay for three or six months instead of yearly.

MSG Networks carry Jalen Brunson’s Knicks as well as the Rangers, Islanders and Devils. AP

6. Could the Mets and SNY team up with the YES and MSG? It is possible, but nothing is happening yet. To put all of the New York MLB, NBA, NHL and WNBA teams under one roof would seem to make a lot of sense. However, the Great Rebundling has a lot of options. MLB, as a league, may try to put many of its teams’ rights together for a DTC product that it sells itself or through another party, such as ESPN, Apple or Amazon. There are a lot of options, which is why SNY is hanging back — for now.

Quick Clicks

Interesting nugget from ESPN insider Adam Schefter on “Sunday NFL Countdown” that could have potential sports media implications. Schefter said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s contract only goes through next season. At that point, Schefter thought, Tomlin may choose to take a break from coaching. If that happens, Tomlin would be a highly coveted NFL TV analyst for either studio work or games. Over the years of talking with TV people associated with the NFL, Tomlin is almost unanimously mentioned as someone who could be excellent at TV.

Mike Tomlin could move from the sideline to a television studio or broadcast booth when his Steelers contract expires. Getty Images

… For ESPN’s second NFL broadcast team, it probably would be smarter to simplify the approach and go with a two-man booth instead of the trio of Chris Fowler, Louis Riddick Jr. and Dan Orlovsky. On Saturday’s Steelers-Ravens game, they fell into the trio trap of talking too much. With two analysts, Riddick was too dominant. The broadcast did not flow enough and sometimes sounded more like a studio show. At the end of the game, the group was stuck on whether the Steelers should target wide receiver George Pickens to throw the ball in the end zone. But with the clock ticking under five minutes and the Steelers up seven against the Ravens’ backup quarterback, it seemed obvious to just run the ball. There was no reason to risk a potential incompletion to stop the clock. The job of executives is to make it easier to succeed. A two-man booth would do that, so they should pick either Orlovsky or Riddick. Meanwhile, it was weird when ESPN moved Fowler in place of Steve Levy on these games, which seemed even more apparent when he was in Baltimore on Saturday with the biggest game of his year, the college football national championship, happening Monday in Houston. Fowler will call the title game with Kirk Herbstreit.

… Agent news: Will Petok has been promoted to Director, Media Talent at Excel under SVP Gideon Cohen. Petok reps Scott Hanson, Erin Dolan, Colt McCoy and Nicole Auerbach.

Marie Donoghue moves on from Amazon

Marie Donoghue has been one of the most important sports TV executives of the past decade or so. Not only because she has been the highest-ranking woman in the space, but because of the deals she has made, most notably spearheading the historic agreement with the NFL to bring “Thursday Night Football” exclusively to Amazon Prime Video.

Marie Donoghue signed off this week from her influential role at Amazon. Amazon

On Thursday, we broke the news of her departure. Here is the internal email sent out by Jay Marine, Amazon’s vice president, Global Sports.

All,

I wanted to share some news. Marie Donoghue has decided to leave Amazon, effective this Friday. A note from Marie is below in her own words, and I want to thank her for all of her work over the past five years. Marie has been an integral part of building our Sports team and our portfolio of live sports rights, and was instrumental in our groundbreaking acquisition of exclusive Thursday Night Football rights in the US, as well as our recent acquisition of NWSL and NASCAR rights.

In the interim and effective tomorrow, Marie’s team of direct reports (Charlie Neiman, Matt Newman, Jeff Kaiser, Daniel Sassoon and Todd Swidler) will report directly to me. We have a terrific team in place and I am confident that we will continue innovating and raising the bar on behalf of our customers.

Please join me in wishing Marie well as she begins a new chapter.

Jay

And here is Donoghue’s email saying goodbye:

Hope that you had a relaxing holiday break.

My apologies for sharing this news via email, but I wanted to let you know that I gave notice yesterday that I will be moving on and this Friday will be my last day at Amazon.

The new year will undoubtedly bring new adventures, but I am very grateful for my time at Amazon. Working with all of you has been incredibly meaningful.

I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last five+ years. We built a remarkable team together, establishing a new benchmark, innovative approach, and service for sports viewing, one that delighted fans and changed the marketplace.

Wrapping up our exceptional and record-breaking TNF season last week was very special for me, and I am so thankful for the role that each of you played in that success.

Thanks also to the entire Amazon team — your relentless focus on quality, delivery and innovation is unmatched. I will always be in your corner, cheering you on.

Warm regards,
Marie

WFAN and bankruptcy

WFAN parent company Audacy announced its bankruptcy agreement on Sunday morning.

St. John’s coach Rick Pitino (middle) with radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti in the WFAN studio. X/@WFANmornings

However, it will have no impact on WFAN, its deals with teams or basically anything else related to the station.

There are many chapters of bankruptcy, and we are not well-versed in any of them (at least not yet, thankfully).

The way we understand it is that to lower Audacy’s rates for the money it has borrowed, its debt collectors will take more ownership of the company on the belief it will be making money.

So there will be a lot of headlines around Audacy, bankruptcy and its impact on WFAN, but we have been told it will not have any effect on the station or its listeners. The FAN is profitable. So, sleep easy: Boomer and Gio should still receive their ratings bonuses on time.

Clicker Books

Papa Clicker, my dad, Herb Marchand, in his first review of the New Year begins with another winner. In “The Big Time: How the 1970s Transformed Sports in America,”  Michael MacCambridge describes many of the changes that occurred in the decade, including the rise of cable television, increased TV coverage (including primetime viewing) and the change in women’s involvement in sports. He also highlights many key events and players of the period, including the Bobby RiggsBillie Jean King tennis match, Muhammad Ali’s fights, the skills of Julius Erving and the evolution of Jack Nicklaus. MacCambridge earns nearly the highest score that Papa Clicker has ever given out with a 4.6 out of 5.





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