The YES App, the streaming service of YES Network that launched in March, will live stream basketball games from the iconic New York City streetball courts at Dyckman and Gersh Parks this summer—an idea that’s been more than a year in the making.
“We’re interested in being able to tap into authentic New York content and diversify our audience base, get younger and bring more fans from different areas and different likes to our ecosystem,” YES senior director of strategy and business development Matthew Duarte said.
The first game will stream today from Dyckman Park in upper Manhattan, followed by a broadcast from Gersh Park in Brooklyn on Saturday. The two parks are situated in the general vicinity of YES’ most popular home teams: the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Nets, respectively.
The Dyckman Basketball Tournament began with six teams in 1990, and now includes dozens of teams across multiple divisions. Meanwhile, Gersh Park is holding its 15th anniversary season. While YES executives were drawn to the robust social media followings and sizable audiences the streetball courts attract, Duarte noted the most compelling factor is the sheer quality of basketball being played. “We’re talking about a high school division that features some of the best high school players in the country, as well as a college/pro division that has big time NBA players who will either come and watch or step onto the court,” he said.
For instance, Kevin Durant appeared at Dyckman Park to watch a tournament game three years ago. That same summer, then Boston Celtic Terry Rozier actually took to the playground court less than a month after starting in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
To drive fans of the streetball leagues to its app, YES has put up signage at the parks, gotten social media boosts from the accounts of the parks themselves, and held a promotion during a Yankees game broadcast. MCs will incorporate mentions of the app on game nights, while highlight clips will live on the app after the games.
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In terms of the broadcast, YES will use a fly-on-the-wall approach to best capture the atmosphere on the ground. “This event doesn’t feel like something where we roll in with a big truck and turn it into some glitzy TV event,” YES vice president of broadcast operations and engineering Mike Webb said. “We have three cameras, one under each basket and one at half court. They’re going to be close to the action. We’re going to have microphones on those cameras so we can pick up the effects of the crowd and also the players. We’re going to let their MC drive the train, and we’re going to keep our presence onsite fairly minimal.”
YES currently has an eight-day schedule for the summer, and will stream as many as three games per day.
The network recently introduced in-stream interactive graphic overlays to its app, and a free-to-play gaming feature is on the horizon. “This is why we wanted to create the white label YES app, so that we really get to set our own creative roadmap,” Duarte said.
YES isn’t ruling out eventually broadcasting streetball games on linear TV, but relishes the chance to experiment with a new platform to start. “This summer is a toe in the water,” Webb said. “We know what the linear audience is looking for. It’s fun to now start to learn what people who primarily consume digitally are looking for.”