March 19 marks two big media birthdays. Though both are cable television networks, they are significant for different reasons.
The elder is C-SPAN, which was created on this date in the great year of 1979. C-SPAN made news this week by making its entire video archive available online, which is a natural extension of the network’s mission: to shine sunlight on the workings of the American government.
The younger is eight years old today: the YES Network, or Yankees Entertainment and Sports (which has an excellent website in addition to an excellent television network). YES was born because the New York Yankees were unsatisfied with annual $70 million payments for their television rights from Madison Square Garden Network, another New York City-based regional sports network (or RSN). The Yankees figured they could do better, and built their own television network to play their games and satisfy the content needs of rabid Yankee fans, who would actually watch the Yankeeography of Danny Tartabull.
When you’re the most famous sports franchise in the world, building your own media empire is much easier than if you’re a grassroots activist organization. But the principal is the same whether you’re launching a YouTube channel or a cable channel: the Yankees knew their audience was out there, and they found their own path to that audience.