By Briana Vannozzi
In this game of hardball, it seems the only people losing are the fans. It’s been five months and 17 games since the YES Network — the cable channel dedicated to all things Yankees — went dark for Comcast customers.
And fans are speaking with actions instead of words.
“I wanted to watch the games and as bad as they’ve been the first 17 games, it’s still a decision that I made to move on and switch to Verizon Fios,” said Yankee fan Anthony Pastore Sr.
Lifelong Yankee followers are ditching Comcast in favor of providers still carrying the YES Network. The two companies have been locked in a stalemate over subscriber fees since November.
“It’s aggravating because you pay for a service and then all of a sudden your service is not what you’ve been promised,” said Jorge Angarita.
“This dispute comes down to one reality,” a Comcast spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Comcast — which serves roughly 900,000 customers in the New Jersey, western Pennsylvania and Connecticut area — contends, “Well over 90 percent of our … customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those games during the season…”
“I watch anywhere from 130 to 140 games. … You always make the case, well we’re doing it because people watch 25 to 30 percent of the games. Yankee fans watch Yankee games,” Pastore said.
“We didn’t want to have a dispute with Comcast. We haven’t been off the air since I’ve been here for 12 years with any major distributor,” said YES Network President and CEO Tracy Dolgin.
Dolgin says Comcast had been paying the same amount as other distributors prior to pulling the plug. He claims the contract dispute really revolves around language Comcast requested giving them an advantage over other providers.
“As they were paying this price the entire season, this market price that everyone else was paying and not a new price increase. The amount of viewers actually increased as the season went on,” Dolgin said.
“You definitely get tired as a consumer listening to the billionaires fight about millions when all you want to do is watch a baseball game,” Anthony Pastore said.
Like his father, Anthony Pastore considered switching providers, but he said, “it’s the taking the day off, having Verizon come or someone else and rewire your house, the installation fees, etc. It’s just more of a headache than it’s really worth.”
New Jersey lawmakers are stepping in, introducing a resolution in the Assembly urging Comcast to settle or reimburse customers for missed games. Both networks tell NJTV News that’s unlikely, and this dispute could carry on for quite some time.