Yankees win keeps Fox's hope of World Series leverage against Cablevision alive
The Yankees defeating the Texas Rangers Wednesday afternoon to stay alive in the playoffs is not only good news for New Yorkers, but also Fox.
That's because the Yankees still have a chance to make it to the World Series and if they do it will give Fox a lot of leverage in its fight with Cablevision Systems Corp.
Fox has the rights to the World Series and should the Bronx Bombers make it, pressure will increase on Cablevision in its negotiations with News Corp.'s Fox to cut a deal that would restore the signal of Fox's New York and Philadelphia television stations to the cable operator's systems in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Fox will feel heat too, but consumers as rule often blame their cable company when they can't get the channels they want.
Currently, talks are at a standstill. Cablevision continues to insist on arbitration, which Fox is refusing. Politicians are pushing both sides to settle their differences, which have kept the signals off of Cablevision's 3.1 million homes for almost five days. On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski took the unusual step of criticizing the behavior of both companies, who in his view have spent more time attacking each other and lobbying politicians than trying to reach an accord.
However, as the past shows, Cablevision doesn't bend too often. It kept the YES Network, the local sports cable channel that the Yankees own and use to carry the team's games, off its systems for a year until New York's then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer got the two sides to make a deal.
The World Series is a little different though, and if 3 million Cablevision subscribers in the New York region can't see the Yankees, politicians will be all over both companies to at least sign some sort of temporary pact. Furthermore, though so far the loss of Cablevision has not had a big impact on the Fox network, its local station WNYW will feel it in the wallet if the signal is off and the Yankees are in the World Series.
Of course, the Yankees still have to win two more games in Texas to get to the World Series, and that means getting past Rangers ace Cliff Lee, which will be just as hard as getting Fox and Cablevision to agree on a deal.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera. Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images