In CableFAX Daily’s March 14 issue, YES Net CEO Tracy Dolgin discussed his current hesitancy over TV Everywhere and his desire to launch a two-screen experience for YES. Here’s more from our hour-long rap session at YES’s HQ on March 1.
What are challenges to stay on top every year?
You have to figure out what the next thing is going to be before it is. With 24-hr HD, we were a pioneer. We did the first 3D baseball game and the first broadband product. You have to see where the world is going—and get there before they get there. A lot of things we launched, we tried well before there was even a market for it. People would say, why are you doing that? There’s no 3D TVs. Well, we need to gain experience in case 3D becomes a big thing. Why are you doing a broadband product? Because the world is moving toward broadband. You have to compete against yourself.
Do you think more networks dedicated to teams will evolve?
Well, Time Warner is launching 2 Lakers networks. Do I think there’ll be more of that? Yes. Do I think it’s going to work every time? No. You’ve got to have the right team, a big enough market. These things have failed in places like Minnesota. The Minnesota Twins [fans] are no less fans than Yankee fans, it’s just in a different area. The cable operator resisted that effort, because it wasn’t a big visible network like New York or Los Angeles. So I think more people will try—and I think only the strong will succeed.
How are you trying to appeal to young people, the cord never-getters?
If you’re an entertainment network, let’s say, it’s a real concern. For us, it’s a much lower concern—you have to watch the Yankees live… The only way you can get the YES network is if you have expanded basic on cable. So our product is very important to the distributor. And sports is becoming more and more important to the distributor, because it’s a barrier for people to get rid of cable. If you get rid of cable and you’re a Yankee fan, you’re missing 150 games.
How do you think the Nets’ move to Brooklyn will affect the network?
I see our audience getting much more diverse next year because the Nets are moving to Brooklyn. They’re doing everything they can to improve their product. They have a great point guard—and they’re out there in the marketplace trying to make that product better. Once they move to Brooklyn there’s going be more pressure on them to fill up that new big stadium. So I think going forward we’re going to have, if they do what they say they’re going to do, we’re going to have a much better Net product, which brings a whole additional audience into the marketplace. We think that’s an opportunity, so a lot of our ad sales growth over the next few years might be coming from the Nets—because you’re going from a relatively low base. If we could do ratings that are half as much as the Knicks are doing, it would mean millions and millions of dollars more in advertising.
You’ve added Arsenal soccer games. Do you plant to focus more on soccer?
We actually looked at adding a second soccer team to the network. The problem is that soccer is played almost as much as basketball. So if we added a second soccer team, given the amount of Net games we have on, we couldn’t clear another team and those games. Right now I have to program when I don’t have Yankee games, when I don’t have Net games and when I don’t have Arsenal games. And I’ve got to put shows on that I can clear at different times of the day and on the weekend because my primetime is pretty well full at this point.