When New York City FC officially joined Major League Soccer last year, the surprise wasn't City Football Group's ownership. That had been rumored for weeks.
The surprise was the involvement of the New York Yankees.
That's what made people sit up and take notice. Their part-ownership of New York City (they own 20% of the team) gave the club instant legitimacy. This morning, their involvement paid serious dividends once more, as New York City announced officially that the club's home and away games would be televised on YES Network.
That's not all, though. As part of the deal, all New York City matches will be streamed live through the Fox Sports 2Go app. You'll need to be a cable subscriber in order to be able to do that; if you have Cablevision or Time Warner, you should be set. I'm trying to see if RCN qualifies; when we find out, we'll update the post.
The inclusion of streaming puts this deal a notch above the Red Bulls TV deal with MSG. In addition to televising the games, YES is actively exploring additional New York City coverage. That includes a "behind the scenes" look at the club's inaugural season, something along the lines of "Being Liverpool", the six-episode series that purported to reveal what life was really like at the storied English club. Some of the other additional coverage could consist of interviews, game review shows, and the like.
This morning's press conference featured Craig Carton, co-host of WFAN’s morning show; Tracy Dolgin, President and CEO of the YES Network; Bob Lorenz, YES Network anchor; and Tim Pernetti, New York City's Chief Business Officer.
"It is only fitting that YES has become New York City FC’s television partner, given the New York Yankees’ investment in the club and New York City FC’s playing in the number one market in the country, at Yankee Stadium in particular," said Dolgin. "The Yankees-Man City ownership structure, along with the presence of Jason Kreis and Claudio Reyna, give New York City FC instant credibility, and we expect it to become one of MLS’ flagship franchises in no time."
The deal with YES matters, because when combined with WFAN, it gives New York City a massive amount of reach into the city's sports consciousness. All New York City games will be carried live on WFAN; Spanish broadcasts will be carried on WADO. Overflow programming will go on 970 AM; and all the games will be live streamed on WFAN.com. YES Network is the most-watched regional sports network in the country, and has been for ten of the last eleven years.
It's unclear what would happen when New York City and Yankees games conflict, which is certain to occur. Unlike MSG, which has additional capacity on MSG+, YES does not. I was not able to get an answer to that question at the time. But it is something to keep in mind as we get closer to the season.
All in all, while this deal was widely-expected, it's still welcome. Unlike the Red Bulls, which have struggled to have a consistent presence on New York's airwaves throughout their existence, New York City starts out with a perch on two prime pieces of sports broadcast real estate. Assuming YES features additional New York City programming -- something they already do with Manchester City, by the way -- the team could be primed to grab the attention of casual fans right from the start.