YES Network reaping benefit of Yankees' late-season surge

By Joe Perez
YES averaged 320,000 viewers per broadcast last month. Prior to August, Yankees games averaged 284,000 viewersGETTY IMAGES

The Yankees’ red-hot August, which included the franchise’s longest winning streak in 60 years, did more than lift the team’s playoff hopes; it produced the best month of viewership this season on YES Network. Thanks in part to that run of 13-straight victories, YES averaged 320,000 viewers per broadcast last month. Prior to August, Yankees games averaged 284,000 viewers. Since the Olympics ended on Aug. 8, Yankees primetime telecasts are drawing even more viewers -- 361,000, which is tops in the N.Y. market. One measuring stick was a recently completed West Coast trip against the A’s and Angels. That drew an average of 277,000 viewers, up 9% from a late July series against the Red Sox and Rays. That is also up 29% from five games in ’19 when the Yankees visited the A’s and Dodgers.

STREAM A LITTLE STREAM: The RSN’s app is also proving a success. Half of its top 20 streamed games -- and five of its top 10 -- happened in August. The number of unique viewers on the app for Yankees games increased by 50% in August over July and the time spent during games by unique viewers was up 25% from July. YES Network Senior VP/Ad Sales Howard Levinson said, “We’re having a great season for streaming, but it’s coming to a crescendo right now with the way they are playing.” He said one of the games in the recent road series against the A’s had the second-most unique streamers -- roughly 70,000. That made it the second-most streamed game of the season behind opening day.

EARNING TOP DOLLAR: The on-field success is benefitting YES Network’s ad sales. Levinson said, “We’ve had a lot of interest in the games. The Yankees always have interest. A lot of people were excited and looking for tickets and looking for advertising schedules and we are very, very tight for the remainder of the season because of that.” The wins also allowed YES Network to raise its advertising rates. Levinson: “We are at point right now where our sellout is very high. We’ve been easing the rates up and we’re at our high point for the season as far as the rates that we are asking from advertisers.” He added, “If you waited this long to get in, you definitely have to pay the price to get on board. And we are seeing companies do that.” Among the categories where the greatest amount of spending is taking place are automotive dealers who are able to keep their inventory up amid the shortage of semiconductor chips; the N.Y. Department of Health, which is promoting vaccinations for school-aged children 12-18; and gaming companies, which have their eye on region's sports bettors with legalization anticipated in New York as soon as early next year. Levinson said, “Caesars joined the party among the bigger spenders in gaming.”

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