08/16/21: YES Network is getting aggressive in its digital endeavors


Medias First Morning Read


Monday August 16, 2021

Once a part of the FOX Sports GO app, YES Network is now flying solo with its digital endeavors with the YES App, which launched in March. Cultivated by Matt Duarte, Senior Director, Strategy and Business Development, YES Network and Kevin Sullivan, Head of Digital, the team is reporting that streaming viewership of Yankees games is up more than 200% year-over-year. Prominent within the app is YES Edge, boating a suite of real-time interactive stats the bolster live-streamed Yankees games on the app and offering interactive, real-time stats that include batter stats, pitcher stats, real-time play-by-play, lineups and more.

Cynopsis caught up with Duarte and Sullivan to talk tech and YES’ vision for fan consumption.

Duarte on immediate digital goals after leaving FOX Sports: Our primary goal was to build an app that would serve as a daily digital destination for our fans. We initially focused on providing a best-in-class authenticated live game streaming experience while establishing the app as a scalable platform. We then supplemented our live game content with other original and engaging content, while simultaneously developing a premium feature set to optimize the user experience.
We also recognized the opportunity to, for the first time ever, create a relationship with consumers. Our team is excited by the opportunity to build a comprehensive product roadmap to enhance and customize the user experience for these fans who are actively participating in the overall YES Network ecosystem.

Sullivan on the greatest challenge: Prior to launching the YES App, heading into each season, we had the benefit of a built-in audience of users who had already downloaded the FOX Sports GO app. However, in pivoting from FOX Sports GO to the YES App on the 2021 Yankees Opening Day, we were unable to migrate users and thus started with zero registrations. We literally had to start over with zero downloads and zero users. We launched a robust multi-platform marketing plan designed to convert fans of our team partners into YES App users. Several months in, we feel confident that our marketing tactics helped springboard the YES App to its current level of success.
Additionally, we used historical viewership data from past seasons to project and estimate viewership on the new app. What we learned is that our marketing was so effective that we far exceeded our projections in a way that stressed our infrastructure, forcing us to quickly right-size our original forecasts and ad sales efforts to account for such high daily viewership.

Duarte on points of pride: We are extremely proud of our registration rate and fan engagement with the app. It’s proof that there is an audience for what we’re building and, more importantly, that fans really like it. Whether it’s daily unique streamers, time spent on the app, participation in YES Pick-N-Play (our free-to-play game), or engagement with our YES Edge graphics on the live stream, fans are diving in head first and thoroughly enjoying all of the YES App features.
We are also very proud to utilize the YES App as a way to widen the scope of our content outside what has traditionally aired on the linear network. The app provides us with not only unlimited inventory for VOD content, but the opportunity to live stream multiple live events simultaneously. This allows us to create and develop content that reaches a younger, more diverse demographic of fans. Whether it is spotlighting our own talent in the digital series Appreciate You with Michael Grady or adding NYC Summer Hoops live basketball games from historic Dyckman and Gersh parks, to our breadth of live sports partnerships, we are excited to attract new fans and connect with our existing fans in a different way. We plan to add much more original and engaging content in the months and years to come.

Sullivan on the birth of YES Edge: From the beginning, we always wanted to create an immersive ecosystem where fans can access all the information they need and want throughout a game. For us, that meant not just giving fans game stats within the same app, but also giving them game stats within the same stream they are already watching. We didn’t want them to have to leave the stream to get a stat then have to come back to continue watching the game, which is why we overlayed that data atop the live game stream.
Baseball is a data-intensive game and we know that our fans have an insatiable appetite for stats and information. On top of that, the team here at YES is comprised of natural storytellers. YES Edge provides our team of researchers and producers the opportunity to tell those stories throughout a game and users the opportunity to consume those stories however they see fit. It’s almost as if the viewers are in the producer’s chair for each broadcast.
Furthermore, after seeing the finished product, we impressed ourselves to a certain degree because we were able to take a blank canvas and create something unique and native to our brand. This wasn’t an out-of-the-box product, nor was it something that was already out in the marketplace. As an industry leader in deploying the latest technology to enhance the fan experience (i.e. YES Mo), we are incredibly proud to have built a first-of-its-kind product.


Speaking of the Yankees, the MLB Field of Dreams game on FOX proved to be a big hit, with the Yankees/White Sox matchup delivering over 5.9 million viewers across FOX and FOX Deportes, according to Nielsen. That ranks as the most-watched regular season baseball game on any network in 2005, in addition to becoming the most-watched regular season baseball game in FOX Sports history. Chicago led local market numbers, with an 11.2/25 followed by New York, St. Louis, Hartford and Kansas City.

Multiple reports state that the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are actively in discussions to form a scheduling alliance, in the wake of the SEC’s expansion. CBS Sports reports that the alliance will likely to be primarily focused on college football scheduling, and “could allow the conferences to create interesting matchups between their biggest brand-name teams in an effort to compete with the SEC’s television inventory and notoriety.”

ESPN announced that KidsCast will return for two presentations for the Little League World Series. For the first time, ESPN will offer a KidsCast alternate presentation on Aug. 22 for the MLB Little League Classic presented by Geico, running on ESPN2 at 7p, alongside the traditional game telecast airing on ESPN. The 2021 MLB Little League Classic presented by Geico will feature the Los Angeles Angels/Cleveland Indians. KidsCast will then serve as the standalone telecast for the Little League World Series game on Aug. 24, at 7:30p, with commentary and content geared towards all ages from a youth perspective Little League legend Mo’ne Davis returns to provide game analysis as she did in 2019.

ESPN also announced that recording artist DJ Snake, featuring Rick Ross and Rich Brian, will provide the musical backdrop for the 2021-22 college football season, with the new single from the artists – “Run It” – becoming as the anthem for ESPN’s college football coverage, which kicks off on August 28. “The right music can elevate the sense of excitement for college football all season long,” said Curtis Friends, senior director of sports marketing for ESPN. “This energetic and unique anthem will once again set the tone for the college football season; ‘Run It’ from DJ Snake, Rick Ross & Rich Brian captures the intensity that fans, teams and players feel about the sport, and we can’t wait for them to hear it.”

ESPN announced its Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell game selection for August 29, picking up the Yankees/Athletics matchup at 7p. The Sunday Night Baseball team of Matt Vasgersian, World Series Champion and analyst Alex Rodriguez and reporter Buster Olney will provide commentary for the telecast.

The 2021 U.S. Poker Open, presented by Global Poker, will premiere on NBC Sports Network today, carrying the first four brand new episodes of the 2021 U.S. Poker Open. The second four episodes of the 2021 U.S. Poker Open presented by Global Poker will air on Aug. 23, with the final four episodes on Aug. 30. As the official presenting sponsor of the 2021 U.S. Poker Open, Global Poker will host an online version of the U.S. Poker Open on its platform starting Aug. 23.



SESSION SPOTLIGHT | Made to Measure: Exploring the New Cross Platform Measurement Solutions
Audience measurement capabilities continue to advance as consumers increasingly migrate across multiple platforms. Marketers can no longer take a siloed approach to their video plans, but in a fast-evolving landscape, which solutions are most effective right now… and what’s next?

On Wednesday, September 22, gain insights from executives representing A+E Networks, Discovery, Spectrum & the VAB.




Ahead of the new season, the NFL locked in new sports betting partnerships with BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBET. The trio now join FOX Bet as a “second tier” of official gaming partners, according to Yahoo Sports, with the first tier already consisting of Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel. The deals now allow the companies to advertise with the league in the new season.

Major League Baseball is mining the world of Minecraft, via a partnership with Microsoft Studios and The Misfit Society that allow Minecraft players to play the MLB Home Run Derby DLC, which allows players to play as one of over a dozen Minecraft characters, and features all 30 MLB teams and stadiums with every park having been recreated.


Disney is forking over $350 million to the NHL in a move to buy out the league’s stake in Disney Streaming Service. The league leveraged a buyout option on Aug. 3. The move means that Disney now owns 85% of Disney Streaming Services, while Major League Baseball claims the remaining 15%. MLB has the right to sell its remaining interest in the company, and Disney has the right to buy it, beginning in 2027, according to reports.

ESPN Digital reached 99.4 million users in the month of June, ranking as the company’s best June on record. ESPN was up 24% year-over-year in users and 132% year-over-year in minutes, anchored by the MLB regular season, NBA playoffs, Cricket, Euro 2020 and the Mayweather v. Paul fight. ESPN Digital is averaging 98.5 million users per month in 2021, making this the best first half year on record.

ONE Championship announced an exclusive global partnership with Theta Network, a blockchain platform, to launch ONE’s first-ever non-fungible token marketplace featuring collectibles that celebrate ONE’s athletes and their top moments. “Our exclusive NFT partnership with Theta Network is part of our long-term vision that fan engagement and commerce around our World Champions — and ONE’s commitment to heroes, values, and stories — will transform live sports entertainment,” said Chatri Sityodtong, Founder and CEO of Group ONE. “Theta was the best choice of blockchain platforms to build this vision.”

Electronic Arts Inc. and Interscope Records revealed the first ever album from EA SPORTS Madden NFL with the release of the Madden NFL 22 Soundtrack, making Madden NFL an album artist for the first time ever. The soundtrack, now available on all major streaming platforms, features 11 exclusive songs, made for Madden, from artists in hip-hop including Jack Harlow, Swae Lee, Tierra Whack, Moneybagg Yo, BRS Kash and more. “I’ve had a long relationship with EA SPORTS and I’m excited to release my new song ‘Ball Is Life’ with Jack Harlow on The Madden NFL 22 Soundtrack,” said hip hop artist Swae Lee.


EVO 2022 will once again grace the floors of Las Vegas, with the fighting game fest returning to LAN in the city after what will be two years away. Live audiences are expected, with tournaments running Aug. 5-7, 2022 and the announcement proclaiming, “We missed you, FGC.”

Esports Entertainment Group inked an exclusive partnership with ESTV EsportsTV to produce gaming content using their Esports Gaming League tournament platform. The deal will see Esports Entertainment Group create multi-platform content based on branded tournaments featuring amateurs as well as professional sports athletes and leverage its relationships with NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS teams. “We are proud to partner with Eric and the team at ESTV. Their global platform for esports and gaming content can be watched via Roku, Amazon Fire, Sling, and many other providers in over 45 countries,” said Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group. “ESTV will help us and our professional sports team partners gain additional reach and engage the lucrative millennial demographic.”

Heavyweight Brazilian esports org LOUD locked in a partnership with Facebook and will now create Free Fire and GTA V gameplay highlights exclusively for Facebook Gaming via LOUD’s Facebook page.

* * *

Cynopsis Digital Model D and It List Awards final deadline is TOMORROW.
These awards recognize outstanding work in Video Content, Ad Tech, Creative Campaigns, Individuals and Teams – the influencers and those working behind the scenes.
Nominate yourself, your team and your work.

One more day to finish your submission!



1954: The first issue of Sports Illustrated is published.

The NFL’s first regular season game to be played outside of the US took place in what city? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who portrayed Tonya Harding in the movie “I, Tanya”? Answer: Margot Robbie. Kudos: Rick Ramage-UTA/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; M. Robbie/NY; Kathi Gillin-Comcat/Philadelphia; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Art Salisch/Nielsen; Sam Pittman-Juniper & Berkeley/Raleigh; Roger Furman-Sports Marketing Communications/Greentown’; Louis Lewow-FITE/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Tom Doherty-T-Mobile Marketing Solutions/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Kevin Fay-Havas Edge/Carlsbad; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Tom Tyrer-Circle Change Media/Santa Barbara

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