Yankees go interactive

YES stacks up stats

Yankees fans who subscribe to DirecTV in the Greater New York area will be able to immerse themselves in the games as never before.

YES will become the first regional sports net to offer single-screen interactive features during baseball games. YES Network chief operating officer Ray Hopkins said Tuesday at a Gotham press briefing.

DirecTV — which is partnering with YES on the strategy — will transmit reams of text inserts, to be compiled in real time by the official Web site of Major League Baseball. While the game is in progress, a touch of the DirecTV remote will call up game statistics, scores of other games, player stats, schedules and other baseball data. These extras will disappear during the commercial break.

Although the YES interactive deal is a first for baseball, DirecTV offered interactive features in its “Sunday Ticket” NFL games, as well as in its Olympics coverage with NBC and in its carriage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

For DirecTV customers, the most imposing add-on to the game is the “bonus cam,” an exclusive, dedicated camera in Yankee Stadium that will focus on the second-most important activity on the field while the main camera is recording the primary action. A button on the remote will call up the bonus-cam coverage, which will fill the left side of the screen as the right side continues to transmit pictures from the lead camera.

Eric Shanks, exec VP of entertainment for DirecTV, said the set-top boxes in subscriber homes will act as Web browsers for all the interactive material that will be instantly available to subscribers.

Shanks said research by DirecTV showed 40% of all “Sunday Ticket” subscribers used some of the interactive functions “on a regular basis.” Early indications, he added, are that a majority of YES viewers are calling up interactive data.

DirecTV’s deal with YES is not exclusive, said Hopkins, adding that the network has already contacted cable operators in the area, although no deals are imminent.

The Yankees’ home territory covers New York, Connecticut and parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Major League Baseball doesn’t permit YES to be carried beyond these local areas because of territorial-rights deals with other teams.

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