News Corp and Yankees set to play ball, raise TV bills

Gigaom

Poor Yankees fans. The mighty Bronx Bombers have become a squad of overpaid geriatric chokers led by a hobbled captain. Now, fans can expect to pay more to watch this mess.

Reports say media giant News Corp is about to acquire a 40% stake in the YES Network, a group of stations partly owned by the Yankees that pipe the team’s games into about 15 million homes in the Northeast. The deal, set to conclude on Friday, is expected to result in YES hiking the $2.99 month fee it currently charges cable and satellite providers to distribute the channel. News Corp’s role will also provide leverage to demand more money because the company owns a group of regional Fox Sports channels that it can offer (or withhold) as part of negotiations.

The YES deal shows again how live sports are becoming evermore value in the age of fragmented audiences and cord-cutting. As The Verge reported yesterday, sports leagues and ESPN have the power to distribute the games online and to mobile devices but have few incentives to do so because of the lucrative cable market.



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