In the world of sports television, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network, cofounded by Leo Hindery Jr., MBA ’71, is in a league of its own. Shown on cable and satellite in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania — and more widely on DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FiOS — it’s the most-watched regional sports network in the nation with more than 500,000 viewers on average each evening for its exclusive telecast of the New York Yankees. The network also shows New Jersey Nets games and college sports, prompting Forbes magazine to rank it ninth among all sports business brands.
Now led by Tracy Dolgin, MBA ’83, the Manhattan-based network is playing in a new arena: digital media. Working with cable distributors and Major League Baseball, last summer YES became the first regional sports programmer to offer live broadband streaming of local pro teams’ games. For an extra fee, fans who already have YES television subscriptions can watch games live on their laptops and smart phones within the YES market area.
Dolgin and vice president Michael Spirito, MBA ’06, shared their experiences this winter with students in the popular MBA elective course Sports Business Financing, taught by GSB Professor George Foster and visiting lecturer Norm O’Reilly. Spirito, who once worked at AOL-Time Warner Ventures, told students the network’s main concern was to avoid the fate of the struggling music and newspaper industries, which lost control of their content and/or gave it away online. “There’s no question that we observed what happened there,” said Spirito, the VP of business development and digital media. “The music business wasn’t nimble enough to cut the right deal with regard to a digital universe. When we thought about our video assets, we made sure that we didn’t make the same mistakes.”
YES president and CEO Dolgin added that the company “has strived to capitalize on the Yankees’ leadership position by creating new revenue streams, developing new marketing platforms for our clients, and extending the breadth of our Yankee-branded programming. … In these uncertain economic times, we continue to invest significantly while others divest, which further enhances our leadership position.”
Dolgin and Spirito were among 20 sports industry leaders who spoke in the winter quarter class.
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