I write about the Yankees often, but I don’t necessarily see much of them.
I live in northern New Jersey and cut the cord years ago. And have no desire to go back to cable for many reasons. YES Network is not available on any of the popular streaming services. And my parents and in-laws recently cut the cord as well, so there are no longer login credentials to borrow. So, thanks to MLB’s blackout rules, the only by-the-book ways to watch Yankees games are the Amazon Prime dates, national broadcasts and Subway Series games on SNY (more on that in a second).
This is not a major personal issue. I am fine listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN as long as the Audacy app works (hit or miss). And most of the Yankees’ biggest games (plus all postseason games) are shown nationally. But I’m about to turn 33 and grew up with baseball on the radio. Kids who are 23 may not have. They also likely have little memory of the last World Series run and are very unlikely to get cable themselves. And the 13-year-olds? They have no memories of a Yankees championship, they don’t listen to the radio and their parents are increasingly dumping cable.
Meanwhile, you can watch the Mets and SNY on all the big streaming services. Not to mention they have a better, hipper on-field product at the moment, from the owner on down.
The Yankees will have a bigger fanbase than the Mets for the foreseeable future. But demographics are a real consideration for big businesses. There would seem a reasonable chance — not a guarantee, though — the Mets could start to make inroads with younger fans based on their accessibility. And that can be quite lucrative as generations progress.
The Yankees could take a big step to protect against such a scenario by launching a YES direct-to-consumer service*. But that won’t be a silver bullet necessarily.
* — This will never happen unless the Yankees decided to shut down YES. But the best way to get the most eyeballs on the team would be to sell the full broadcast rights to Prime. It’s hard to live life itself without Amazon nowadays, so more people would eventually make the plunge and sign up.
Streaming service subscriptions are starting to pile up. A YES package would just be another brick on the load. Again, a married 33-year-old in a dual-income household might be willing to add that to the tab. But a 23-year-old who has three roommates and student loans may not — especially if the Mets are already available to them. And when Aaron Judge is playing for the Giants.
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