The Rise of the Regional Sports Network Content Ownership in an Ever-Changing World: The YES Network in 2009

By George Foster, Norman O'Reilly
2011 | Case No. SPM44

In 2009, the digital world was in a period of drastic change. The YES Network, the regional sports network linked to the New York Yankees baseball club, was at the forefront of the issue of the day: the management of digital rights. In simpler terms, they were faced with the challenge of merchandising broadband, wireless and interactive TV while not undermining our existing television audiences. Risks were high and the management challenge intense. This issue was facing all regional sport networks (RSNs) as club and league management seek to maintain their fan bases, grow their revenues and expand their footprints. In 2009, the technology for online streaming existed, was in place, and was affordable. However, the quest for a business model between the content owners (television networks and content rights holders such as MLBAM) and the ‘TV Everywhere’ concept of cable operators such as Time Warner and Comcast was ongoing. This case outlines the challenge of monetizing these new areas while not disrupting core business models and cannibalizing current revenue sources. Notably, the television cable model was superior to the broadcast model in terms of revenue generation with cable networks reporting high profitability in 2009. This case has a PowerPoint supplement available by request.

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