Comcast-YES Dispute Angers Yankees Fans

For many New York Yankees fans, the ongoing blackout of the YES Network on Comcast cable TV services is much more disappointing than the team’s opening day rainout.

“Oh, it’s the worst man,” said Rob Mignosa, a lifelong Yankees fan and Comcast customer. “All of a sudden it’s the Yankees season starting and we don’t even have the channel now.”

Comcast, NBC Connecticut’s parent company, and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES) are deadlocked in a dispute dating back to the fall.

YES Network wants to charge more, but Comcast argues the price is not right.

“It remains our hope to bring back YES to our customers,” said Laura Brubaker Crisco, a spokesperson for the Comcast – Western New England Region. "But, we can only do that if FOX becomes realistic with its price demands. This is the first cable network we have dropped. The excessiveness of FOX’s demands is confirmed by the fact that we are not the only distributor who has refused to agree to pay YES’ exorbitant fees. For example, Dish also does not carry YES.”

State lawmakers are stepping up to the plate and urging to the two sides to resolve the situation leaving more than 900,000 customers without a way to watch the Bronx Bombers.

“The average middle class fan here in Connecticut doesn’t care what point or finger waiving they’re doing,” Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford) said. “They just want to watch the Yankees games when they come home at night.”

Scanlon is calling on Comcast to partially refund customers who aren’t able to watch the start of the Yankees 2016 season.

“Opening Day should be a time of celebration for baseball fans everywhere but Comcast continues to deny close to a million of its subscribers access to New York Yankees telecasts on the YES Network,” a YES Network Spokesperson told NBC Connecticut. “Comcast should restore YES to its lineup and honor the deal which they agreed to last season so that Yankees telecasts, among the most popular sports programming in the U.S., are available to all Comcast viewers in the Tristate area.”

“FOX and YES are demanding more than a 30-percent increase for a network that has very low viewership among our customers and which is already the most expensive RSN in the country” Crisco said. “It is also 35-percent more expensive than the average cost of the next 10 most expensive regional sports networks in the U.S., according to SNL Kagan data.”

At the Regal Beagle Bar in New Haven, owner Michael Longley is paying for Direct TV in addition to Comcast in order to show the Yankees games.

“I’m a Red Sox fan,” Longley said, but he still feels bad for the Yankees fans who can’t watch their team’s games.

“Of course, cause I’d feel the same way if I couldn’t watch my Sox and plus being a business, we try to make it available for everybody, all of our customers,” Longley said.

YES Network broadcast about 130 Yankees games during the 2015 season. Crisco said 90 percent of the 900,000 plus customers who received YES didn’t watch even one fourth of those games.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have also contacted Comcast and YES Network on behalf of their constituents.

“I have reached out to officials at Comcast and YES to personally urge them to find a way to bring programming back to Yankees fans, but sadly it appears there is no end to the impasse in sight,” Blumenthal said. “I share the frustration with the thousands of Yankees fans who are blacked out from watching their team play. With rain postponing today’s Opening Day game, Comcast and YES should use this extra day to put consumers first and return to the negotiating table. For companies of this size – and profitability – to be putting consumers in this position does a disservice to the men and women who faithfully paid their cable bills.”

Comcast is the parent company of NBC Connecticut.

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