Commentary by MC Antil YES Network’s Dolgin Har-nessing a Powerful Brand It was June 8, 1969. Yankee Stadium. Bronx, New York. Mickey Mantle Day, to be exact. Florence Dolgin, recently widowed, living hand-to-mouth and trying to be both mother and father to her two children, wanted to do something special for her son. Since his hero was being honored, she decided to scrape together a few bucks and take him to Yankee Stadium. All she could afford were two obstructed-view seats in the upper deck. As she sat there contemplating life without a husband, she explained to her son the challenges that lie ahead. After a couple of innings she asked, "When will you know that you’ve made it; you know, that you’ve become a success?" After thinking about it for a moment, nine-year old Tracy looked at her and said, "I guess when I can afford to buy season tickets to Yankee games." Little did either of them know that 35 years later Tracy Dolgin would have all the tickets he could ever need. As president of YES, the most successful regional sports network anywhere, and home to the single most powerful name in team sports, Dolgin sits atop what amounts to the New York Yankees in-house brand factory. When I caught up with Tracy we spent the better part of an hour talking two things he loves: New York and the Yankees. Though born in Chicago and raised in Tampa, Dolgin didn’t move to New York until the tragic drowning death of his father. But he quickly adopted the city as home, and it has been in his blood ever since. For example, he told me on the morning of September 11, 2001, he was set to fly from his home in L.A. to New York. (At the time he was running Fox’s RSN group and frequently traveled to New York for business.) He then said, "I was mad as hell. Those planes weren’t just attacking my country. They were attacking my hometown." As for working with the Yankees, Dolgin says he’s still a fan, but that had nothing to do with him moving east for the YES job. "I’ve been in sports for a long time, so it was been-there, done-that. But even if I was a Red Sox fan, I would have taken this job because of the power of the Yankee brand." And therein lays the essence of Dolgin. As big a fan as he is, he is first and foremost a marketer. He cut his teeth in packaged goods, developed a love for marketing at HBO and learned to play hardball at Fox, where his "Same Game, New Attitude" campaign for the newly acquired NFL ushered in the era of the in-your-face, testosterone-laced network promo. He told me: "ESPN is the dominant sports brand nationally, and we are the dominant local sports brand – and we’re as dominant a national brand as you’ll find, while still being local." He then talked about the power of localism and how the Yankees are a part of the "fabric of New York." He detailed how love for the team is so palpable that it is possible to track the score of a Yankee game inning by inning, not by looking at the box score, but by tracking the YES ratings at 15 minute intervals. (At least the game I checked, it works. Ratings are up when the Yanks are winning, down when they’re losing, and spike when they’re rallying.) Before we hung up Tracy talked about cable network brands, about the haves and have-nots, and about how the divide between the two is growing. He also told me that consolidation of distributors and the marketplace’s "clutter effect" have put the importance of brand strength at an all-time high. "The value of your brand, and the community around it, has either made you a have or an incredible have-not. And the collective impact of those factors is so negative on the have-nots and so positive on the haves, that it’s increased the gulf between the two."

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