YES Network, DirecTV iTV services a winner

By Ken Kerschbaumer

When the YES Network made Yankee telecasts interactive with DirecTV in the middle of the 2006 baseball season it remained to be seen if the effort would be worth it. Historically interactive TV services have been a bust, with a lot of money being thrown after little results. The YES Network, however, seems to have managed the inverse: finding much results with a relatively small capital investment. This week the YES Network released its first “ratings” for the service for a complete season and the findings prove compelling.

– 42% of unique households with access to YES Interactive used it month-in month-out during the 2007 season
– YES Interactive users typically watched Yankees games on YES 54% longer than viewers who did not access YES Interactive
– Over the course of the 2007 season – from April to September the average number of users increased 20%
-The number of times YES Interactive was used per household per month increased by 84%
-The amount of time spent on YES Interactive by the average user increased by 184%
-Traffic to the application’s out-of-town scoreboard increased by 67%
-Traffic to the application’s MLB Standings feature increased by 141%

Ray Hopkins, YES Network COO, says the network was impressed with the numbers as they were “SundayTicketesque,” referring to the DirecTV SundayTicket interactive services that keep fans on top of all the action around the league.

The service provides an in-game boxscore, an out-of-town scoreboard, and a bonus camera position that follows the second-most important storyline during a play.

“This really resonated with the end user and they used it as an additive and complimentary service to the broadcast,” adds Hopkins. “What we found most interesting was that those that used it watched the telecast 54% longer than those that did not.”

Of course, those 54% might also simply be the Yankees biggest fans which means they would have watched the game longer event if there wasn’t an interactive service. But from a marketing standpoint even that would be beneficial as the interactive service could be a way for advertisers to reach the Yankees biggest fans.

“This service is perfect for baseball because there are the lulls between pitches,” adds Hopkins.

From a sales standpoint the service will be included as part of the overall Yankee sales pitch in 2008. And then there is always the potential to offer a way for fans to click and get more information about the product advertised.

“We love the fact that we are unique in what we deliver,” says Hopkins. “DirecTV has not done this with any other regional sports network yet and they did with us. And that’s because Yankee content is the best content out of the regional networks.”