Section: Sports,  Page: B2

Date: Friday, June 26, 2009

Like cool ocean water on a hot summer day, the temptation to dive into broadband streaming of local sports events has been lurking. The New York Yankees, perhaps with a push by Major League Baseball, will be the first to test the temperature.

The Yankees, in conjunction with the YES Network and MLB Advanced Media, announced this week that they will begin in-market broadband streaming of games in Cablevision homes.

It will be at a cost, of course, and it's not yet available in the Capital Region, but that probably will come along, too.

Why is it a big deal? Baseball has long protected its home markets from outside interests. You can watch virtually every game online with the MLB-TV package for as little as $69.95 annually, except that games involving teams in your home market are blacked out.

This new deal allows slackers at work to watch the home team, but at a cost. The price -- and this is just for the Yankees -- is $49.95 for the remainder of the year, or $19.95 for any 30-day period.

"Yankees fans have more choices than ever before to follow the team, and there are no extra costs passed on to those who choose not to sign up for the package," said Tracy Dolgin, YES president and CEO.

You really have to be a Yankee fan, or have an income that rivals that of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, to want to invest this kind of money for the opportunity to see your team when away from the living room.

For a New York fan to get the package, he must be a Cablevision expanded basic customer and subscribe to the Optimum Online high-speed Internet service.

And you still have to pay on top of that.

"We're already in discussions with our cable operators and our distribution partners," Dolgin said. "We've gotten a lot of interest in the product. We started with Cablevision because Cablevision is the biggest cable operator within our footprint."

Asked specifically about Time Warner, which services a majority of the Capital Region, Dolgin said, "We are having discussions with Time Warner, and we are working through those as with all operators, these things take time to get done."

No need to rush. I can't imagine, with today's economy, people will be lining up to pay another 50 bucks while risking their job to watch games at work.

Then again, I was never into high-risk swimming.

Pete Dougherty is the Times Union's sports TV/radio column. He can be reached at 454-5416 or by e-mail at pdougherty@timesunion.com. Visit his blog at http://blogs.timesunion.com/sportsmedia.


Sound bytes

1Same time next year? NBC's ratings for the U.S. Open were down significantly, thanks to the constant rain at Bathpage, er, Bethpage Black, but it should be just a one-year lull. Next year's Open in the Pacific time zone (Pebble Beach, Calif.) allows for later start times, when more couch potatoes are vegetating.

2Syracuse University football will open the Doug Marrone ooaching era on national TV (ESPN2), playing host to Minnesota on Sept. 5 in the Carrier Dome. This has the feel of letting the guests arrive before the house is cleaned.

3For the first time since 1988, the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will not be on the ESPN family of networks. MLB Network will show the July 26 festivities, which probably is just as well, since recently the enshrinement had been relegated to ESPN Classic.Weekend's best

Friday 7 p.m.: Major league baseball, N.Y. Yankees at N.Y Mets. CC Sabathia (6-4) against Mike Pelfrey (5-2), but the game won't be over until the fat lady hits a lazy fly ball to Luis Castillo.

Saturday, 8 a.m., 3 p.m.: Pro tennis, Wimbledon (ESPN2, NBC-13). I thought this Grand Slam tournament started earlier in the week, but all I've seen are bright blue skies and sunbathed grass courts, so it can't be England.

Saturday, 8 p.m.: Auto racing, IRL, SunTrust Challenge (Versus). This isn't a big race, but it's a Saturday night, and most Indycar fans don't know there is a Versus in their universe.

Sunday 1:30 p.m.: Major league baseball, Boston at Atlanta (TBS). It's not Cy Young and Warren Spahn, but Red Sox "fifth starter" Brad Penny (6-2) goes against the Braves pitcher who stymied the Yankees the other night, Tommy Hanson (3-0).

Sunday 2 p.m.: Soccer, FIFA Confederation Cup final, U.S. vs. Brazil. (ESPN2). Pardon the political slant, but the Americans have no more business in this game than they do being in Iraq. Miracle on the pitch.



Discuss these and other topics in the "Best Seat In My House" blog. Go to http://blogs.timesunion.com/sportsmedia.