YES Network’s Duarte Lands ‘Holy Grail’ With Single-Screen, Prediction Game

Written By Mike Mazzeo on April 25, 2022 - Last Updated on April 28, 2022
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Matt Duarte, VP of strategy and business development for YES Network, has been working on “Pick-N-Play,” which extends NY sports betting options. The free prediction game created in concert with Simplebet, and available on the YES app — for the last two years.

“It’s the holy grail for us,” Duarte said. “It’s been pretty cool so far.”

The reason Duarte calls it the “holy grail” is because it’s a single-screen experience, with users prognosticating on events that will unfold while watching the live broadcast of New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games.

Simplebet describes itself on its website as “a B2B product development company using machine learning and real-time technology to make every moment of every sporting event a betting opportunity.”

And while Duarte couldn’t speculate about what’s to come, it’s easy to connect the dots and assume that these development stages are serving as a “spring training” of sorts for an eventual real money, single-screen, live in-game betting experience down the road.

YES Network dipping toes into NY sports betting waters

For now, Pick-N-Play remains in testing mode before making its true debut for Yankees’ broadcasts. But it is available for Nets’ games, with Monday’s Game 4 potentially serving as the last time for the 2021-22 NBA season.

“I think for us, how we’re rolling out the product now is with select prediction markets that we think are best-suited for us at this time,” Duarte said.

That includes:

  • Over/unders on points scored during quarters and by individual players
  • Who’s going to score the next basket during game breaks
  • On-deck batter results for their respective at-bats
  • Possible next batter results for a pitcher

But that will continue to expand as technological advances occur. For now, Pick-N-Play offers the following:

  • How many points will a player score this quarter?
  • Which team will score next?
  • What will the result of this possession be?
  • What will be the specific result of an at-bat?
  • Will the next batter get on-base?
  • Will the next pitch be a ball, strike or in-play?

“When you talk about the total number of options and predictions, the number that we have now is probably going to grow a lot,” Duarte said. “We think being the first ones to do this is really going to give us an advantage to make richer, more in-depth product that is better for fans. …

“We really want to create those really personalized experiences. We’re going to continue to push the envelope.”

Challenge remains to allow app to flow smoothly with games

Latency remains an obstacle, though one that will continue to be worked through.

“It was a lot of long days and late nights of testing during games to make sure everything is kind of tied to the actual game flow. It was important for us to tie the results of the questions you’re being asked to the actual game that you’re watching on that single-screen experience,” Duarte said.

“So when Kevin Durant hits his point over for a quarter, we want that notification to come out that says you’re hit this prediction after he scores the basket — not tied to the linear feed — so I think understanding and working through those technological aspects was important and then just the attention to detail I think was really critical as well.”

Yankees at center of NY sports betting expansion

As Yankees president Randy Levine told PlayNY back in February: “Baseball is a great game to responsibly bet — whether you’re going to bet on the location of the next pitch or whether an at-bat will end in a single, double or strikeout. The possibilities are endless.”

The Yankees have been all-in as it pertains to legal NY sports betting so far. FanDuel just renewed its sports betting partnership with the team as part of a multi-year agreement on Monday. The deal includes VIP hospitality and signage in right-field and behind home plate during TV broadcasts.

The Bronx Bombers also have a VIP DraftKings Sportsbook lounge on the third-base line of the Legend Suites. (Legislation would have to pass for it to become a retail sportsbook.)

Both DraftKings and Bet365 represent the team’s other sportsbook partners, with the Yankees seeking to increase on that front, sources recently told PlayNY.

Photo by PlayNY
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is the Lead Writer for PlayNY, arriving after covering several of New York's professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPN NewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer. With PlayNY, Mike brings extensive coverage and unique story angles to what is projected to be one of the biggest and most lucrative online sports betting markets in the country. It's been an arduous and confounding process to get here, but 20 million New Yorkers (many of them die-hards) are now legally able to bet on their favorite sports teams across the state via online and mobile platforms.

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