Leo Hindery will push to put New York Yankees games on basic cable as newly named YankeeNets CEO.
YankeeNets says it wants basic cable carriage, and it must convince Cablevision, which is losing the Yankees franchise for its MSG Network, to go along. Hindery conceded negotiations would be a "difficult" and protracted process. Resistance to letting the Yankees migrate to cable instead of remaining a pay staple will be high.
Hindery said he has already "reached out" to the Dolans at Cablevision and execs at AOL Time Warner and Comcast Cable to get talks started. And all this good be a deft pose by Hindery, who could ultimately blame those greedy cable operators for pushing YankeeNets to be a pay service.
Cablevision CEO James Dolan reacted by saying he expects to continue carrying Yankee games. "We look forward to hearing specifics from the new network," Dolan said in a statement. A Time Warner Cable spokesman said that his company also is eager to begin discussions with Yankee Nets.
Hindery, long been rumored to be YankeeNets' choice for the post, is also one of the prime investors in the new company, along with Goldman Sachs & Co., Quadrangle Group and Amos B. Hostetter, Jr., who will serve as non-executive chairman. The group is chipping in a reported $340 million for a 40% stake in the network. Hindery confirmed the size of the stake during a Monday teleconference, but not the dollar amount.
Asked if the absence of carriage could negatively affect the YankeeNets ad sales effort, Hindery said, "It's a waterbed right now."
The Yankees Entertainment and Sports, dubbed the YES regional network, launches in March to carry 125 to 130 regular season games of the New York Yankees. As many as 30 games will go to local broadcast outlets, with 12 games in the MLB package on Fox. New Jersey Nets and Devils deals remain to be worked out once their existing cable carriage expire. Meanwhile, YankeeNets will cast around for other, unspecified regional events and will also slate what Hindery called "lifestyle" content.
Hindery, 53, is currently chairman of HL Capital, Inc., his
family's private investment and charitable organization. Hindery was president and CEO of AT&T Broadband which was formed out of the March 1999 merger of Tele-Communications, Inc. into AT&T. - Richard Tedesco