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In-market stream debuts with Yanks win

Yanks win in-market stream debut

Mario Pena is a 22-year-old senior at Binghamton University, majoring in Industrial and System Engineering. He works in the school's audiovisual department, loves technology and he also happens to love the New York Yankees.

On Wednesday night, Pena was on his laptop at home during the summer at his apartment in Queens' Astoria section, becoming part of some baseball history. He subscribed and was watching the debut of Yankees on YES -- the first live in-market streaming product in professional sports to include games with local broadcast television deals.

It was the dawn of a new era for Major League Baseball fans, and the Yankees made it even more enjoyable for their new subscribers by winning at Minnesota, 4-3 -- with Mariano Rivera retiring now-official MLB batting leader Joe Mauer for a classic final out of a classic game. During the seventh inning of this much-anticipated event, Pena emailed MLB.com to report mission very much accomplished.

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"I'm watching it on my laptop," he said. "I could watch it on the TV right now, but I decided to get the service for future use and try it tonight since it's the first time.

"It's great. In my case, I got it since I'm a big baseball fan, especially a Cubs/Yankees fan. I already have an MLB.TV account, but I can only hear the game from the local radio station, so I usually listen to John Sterling. But now, with the YES live broadcast it's great. Now I can catch it either while at school or at work. Also, my parents live in Long Island and Queens so I travel a lot. It's always good to know I can count on YES to watch the game."

Pena said the highlight was "watching [Derek] Jeter get a hit in the first official at-bat of the game. And yes, it's always good to get a strikeout with the bases loaded" -- referring to A.J. Burnett's first strikeout, which ended a key bases-loaded threat by the Twins.

Signups are under way for the Yankees on YES package, available for a one-time fee of $49.95 for the remainder of the season or $19.95 for any 30-day period. You will get to watch the next game this way quickly enough, because the teams meet again in the series finale Thursday at 1:10 p.m. ET at the Metrodome with Alfredo Aceves (5-1) on the hill for the Bombers as the replacement for injured starter Chien-Ming Wang.

With Yankees on YES, you also will be able to see a team that is red-hot once again. The Yankees kept pace with the Red Sox with Wednesday's win, staying a game out in the American League East, after manufacturing runs and winning their fifth consecutive series.

Yankees fans will be able to watch these games live over their computers at home or at the office, wherever they want in the YES Network territory, and many of them already have subscribed to participate in a little more baseball history.

"I'm sure Yankees fans will appreciate it," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who also played in that historic 2002 game that marked the first live stream of a Major League Baseball video broadcast. "You see how they've always come out and supported us before this, and everywhere we go, there are people wearing Yankees gear. Anything that gives fans more access, it's a positive. I think it's great. I'm pretty sure more teams will follow."

Jeter put the final exclamation mark on this historic night by snagging a liner off the bat of Mauer, who needed five plate appearances to officially become eligible for the MLB batting lead. Mauer went 3-for-5, including an opposite-field homer off reliever Phil Coke, and upped his average to .388. That made it even more dramatic the way this game finished.

"Here we go," said YES play-by-play man Ken Singleton before the final at-bat. "The matchup everyone paid to see: Mariano Rivera against Joe Mauer."

It was that kind of night. A perfect night for a Yankees fan, with the possible exception of the Red Sox winning at the same time up in Fenway Park.

"It was the perfect way to end the day," Pena said of the last out. "We had to use Mariano for more than an inning, which I don't like because he's getting old and we need to rest the arm for later on this year."

For Yankees fans like Pena, this new Yankees on YES product meant portability and convenience -- the raison d'etre, in case you are one of those fans wondering why to subscribe if you can watch the games live on TV with YES. Now, you can have it every way.

MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) entered into a partnership with the YES Network and Cablevision to provide live YES Network Yankees telecasts to eligible Cablevision customers throughout the Yankees home broadcasting territory. The offering, which is being implemented through an authentication process managed by Cablevision and MLBAM, is available to Cablevision customers who subscribe to the Family Cable (expanded basic) level of television service and Optimum Online.

"It's an historic day for sports," YES CEO Tracy Dolgin said during the announcement of this package in late June. "For the first time, old and new media are really meeting. It means more convenience and portability for all of our consumers. It's only appropriate that it is happening first for the most historic franchise in sports, the Yankees. ... Now, on this historic day, with the cooperation of the Yankees, Cablevision, YES Network and MLBAM, the YES Network has really broken a logjam by being the first team to introduce in-market streaming to what are the greatest fans in the world."

Eligible Cablevision subscribers can review frequently asked questions about the product and purchase Yankees on YES at yankees.com, YESNetwork.com and Optimum.net.

The YES network's territory includes 7.5 million households around New York City, Long Island, much of New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania.

"This continues what has been a longstanding approach of baseball to make games available to its fans through electronic means, beginning way back when," said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLBAM. "I still remember when games were on radio, then broadcast TV, then cable TV, satellite TV, satellite radio and MLBAM streaming games out of market in 2002, and then finally getting to where we are today in 2009 -- putting the fan first and giving him and her the most opportunity to see a ballgame on the off chance they can't go to a ballpark. That has been an underpinning of baseball for the last several decades, I would say almost a century.

"The structure of this deal is an add-on feature to someone who's already a subscriber in the offline world to YES, to give them more opportunities and more portability, and it protects and enhances the existing economic relationship, which we think is important. ... We are hopeful at baseball and MLB.com that there will be more clubs, more RSNs, more MSOs that will join us in the 2009 season, and we look forward to making some of those announcements in the weeks ahead. ... The time is today, and we're optimistic."

The Padres also have announced their version that will debut on July 16 in the San Diego market. Major League Baseball has indicated that it will gradually roll out similar in-market streaming deals, and that most clubs should be participating by next season.

"These agreements are an important part of our global effort to give fans greater access to our game," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "It is important that fans in local markets have portable flexibility to stay connected to their favorite team if they can't be at the ballpark, and I believe this represents a significant step in that direction."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Yankees reporter Bryan Hoch contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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