New York regional sports network, MSG Network and its overflow channels, MSG Plus are expected to be pulled at midnight from Time Warner Cable systems. This coming directly from MSG which is encouraging viewers to find other providers to continue watching New York Knicks and New York Rangers games.
The two sides have been attempting to negotiate a new carriage agreement, but Time Warner Cable contends that MSG is asking too much while MSG says TWC has rejected every overture. Whatever the beef, the two sides are not close to an agreement and MSG will go dark.
Time Warner says it’s not pulling MSG, the network is choosing to go dark on its systems. The move also effects MSG Buffalo which carries Sabres games in Western New York.
We have the release from MSG Media.
NEW YORK, Dec 31, 2011 — Despite MSG Media’s attempts to engage Time Warner Cable in good faith negotiations for nearly two years, no agreement is expected to be reached for Time Warner Cable to continue to carry MSG Network and MSG Plus. Therefore, as of midnight tonight, MSG Network and MSG+ will be dropped from the Time Warner Cable channel lineup, and New York area sports fans will miss exclusive local live coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.
“We are disappointed that MSG and MSG Plus will be dropped from Time Warner Cable’s lineup,” said Michael Bair, president, MSG Media. “All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers — nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years. In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers and instead spent their time grossly mischaracterizing our positions to the public. We certainly hope Time Warner Cable returns to the negotiating table and reconsiders our good faith proposals. Until that happens, we encourage Time Warner Cable subscribers to switch providers by calling 888-keepmsg (533-7674) or visiting keepmsg.com.”
“Given Time Warner Cable’s reportedly record-setting $5 billion investment in Los Angeles Lakers rights, we expected that they would be eager to continue to deliver top New York sports programming to their customers, who are unfortunately caught in the middle of this dispute,” added Bair. “And they’ve stated publicly that they’re committed to broadening their investment in local sports. Yet they’re about to drop some of New York’s most popular sports programming — what does that say to New York sports fans?”
There is significant enthusiasm around MSG’s teams and programming. Knicks ratings were up more than 100% last season and are already up this year, the Rangers are enjoying double-digit increases over the same period last season, the Sabres are the highest rated American team in the NHL, and there are passionate fan bases for the Islanders and Devils. MSG and MSG Plus telecast nearly 400 live NBA and NHL games a year, and nearly 700 live games a year, including games from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. MSG Networks also airs WFAN’s popular Boomer and Carton show, hundreds of college basketball and college football games from the nation’s best conferences, as well as award-winning original programming. MSG has won more New York Emmy Awards than any network or station in the area over the past four years, and with MSG Plus has collected 63 in total over that time frame.
For its part, Time Warner Cable has issued the following statement:
“The decision to remove their programming from our lineup rests entirely with MSG. By making that decision well in advance of the deadline, MSG has again shown that they are more interested in holding New York sports fans hostage than in negotiating a deal. Rather than engage in a war of words, they should come back to the table and get a deal done.”
Nice to end 2011 with a carriage dispute and nice to have 2012 start fresh with a cable fight.