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Yanks Taking Pitches

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The fledgling Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network is talking to ad agencies about its marketing needs as it prepares for a spring 2002 launch, sources said.

Six to eight shops have been contacted, and the New York client will soon cut to three finalists-based chiefly on case histories and chemistry meetings, said sources. That cut could come as early as next week.

The finalists will present strategic ideas to a group of YES executives that includes David Krone, evp in charge of marketing, who is managing the search, and CEO Leo Hindery Jr. "This is a service that will be distinguished ... by its branding," said Hindery, who confirmed the search.

In addition to New York Yankees baseball games, YES, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, will show New Jersey Nets basketball games, Manchester United soccer matches and New Jersey Devils hockey games. (The Nets will join the mix next fall; the Devils in 2007.) Original programming also is expected.

The client is looking for more than traditional advertising, sources said. The assignment will likely involve direct marketing, promotional efforts and interactive duties. As one source put it, "It's a full 360-degree brand."

Billings have not been determined. Sources indicated that YES' appeal transcends billings, noting the international following of both the Yankees and Manchester United.

YES will compete with the MSG Network, which spent about $2 million in measured media last year, and Fox Sports New York, whose spending hovered around $10 million in 2000, according to CMR.