By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, do you know why Prime Video only makes their Yankee games available to Prime members in the Yanks footprint? There are plenty of Yankee fans in the rest of the country, but even if we have a Prime subscription, we’re shut out of the games. It doesn’t seem to make any business sense., especially since Amazon makes their NFL games available nationwide. — Kathy, Dunnellon, Florida.
Kathy, that’s a great question. The answer lies in the difference between how baseball and football distribute their TV rights. Let me explain. But first, a little background on Amazon’s New York Yankees broadcasts.
Amazon, a part-owner of the Yes Network, which has the regional TV rights to New York Yankee games, this season is again offering 20 Bronx Bombers’ contests for free to Prime members.
But the 20 Prime Video broadcasts are only available to Prime members in New York State, Connecticut, north and central New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania, the traditional viewing areas for Yankee games on Yes. (Prime Video’s live Yankees games will also be available to MLB.TV and MLB Extra Innings subscribers outside the Yankees’ home-team footprint.)
The reason is that Amazon and the Yes Network only have the regional TV rights to the games. That means they are restricted from showing the games outside the Yankees’ territory.
Now you might say they should pay for the national rights, too, because there are Yankees fans across the nation. That is true, but national rights, held by networks such as Fox and ESPN, are far more expensive than regional rights. It would not be wise for Amazon to pay a much larger fee for the Yankees’ national rights because the viewership would not rise so much to make it worthwhile. Yes, there are more Yankees fans, but not that many.
And even if Amazon wanted to buy the national rights to the Yanks, MLB doesn’t sell national TV rights to a single team. So it’s a moot question.
Amazon does offer its Thursday Night Football games nationwide, but that’s the deal it has with the NFL. And, yes, the e-commerce giant pays a much higher price for those rights.
Lastly, the NFL only sells national rights to the entire league. MLB sells national rights to the entire league, and regional rights to single teams.
Kathy, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann