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Category Archives: New York Islanders

MSG Goes Dark On Time Warner Cable

To no one’s surprise, MSG has gone dark on Time Warner Cable. That leaves most of New York state without access to the Sabres, Rangers, Devils and Islanders. In response, TWC is offering a free view of their sports pack to its customers, although that means little to fans of their local teams. From Multichannel News -

Time Warner Cable, maintaining that a deal had been in reach before the programmer demanded a “whopping” increase and refused to negotiate further, is offering its subscribers a month-long freeview of its sports package in the wake of the removal of MSG and MSG Plus from its lineup.

The nation’s No. 2 cable operator and MSG Media couldn’t reach a new license fee agreement as their contract expired at midnight on Jan. 1 and the two regional sports networks, which carry New York Knicks NBA games, as well as the NHL’s New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, are not currently available to Time Warner Cable’s 2.3 million video customers in the New York DMA and in upstate New York.

“Despite agreeing to the asked for 6.5% price increase on rates that MSG themselves deemed as fair market rates just last year, MSG reneged on the deal and instead, demanded a whopping 53% increase and refused to negotiate further,” Mike Angus, senior vice president, content acquisition, for Time Warner Cable, in a statement.

“We hate that our customers have been put in this terrible position, and MSG has offered no credible explanation as to why they suddenly need a 53% increase over last year’s rates. Perhaps after renovating the Garden they are looking for New York sports fans to fund renovations of the Forum they recently purchased in Los Angeles. Who knows, but if they have substantial new funding needs, that’s what banks – not our customers – are for. We hope the fans will remind MSG that in these economic times, no one can afford to pay 53% more for their channel.”

In announcing the disconnect on Dec. 31, MSG Media president Mike Bair expressed his own disappointment.
“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.”

Both sides have launched websites to keep customers updated on any future negotiations and for PR purposes. Time Warner has launched www.twcconversations.com/MSG which points out that many games are available on national channels. Meanwhile, MSG has launched two websites. The first one, keepmsg.com focuses on the New York City area, while keepmysabres.com is targeted towards the Buffalo region.

 

FCC Affirms MSG Decision; MSG Must Offer HD

From Multichannel News -

The FCC has denied a request by Madison Square Garden and Cablevision to review a Media Bureau decision that it must make high-definition feeds of its MSG and MSG-Plus regional sports nets available to AT&T and Southern New England Telephone Company in Connecticut, and Verizon in the New York and Buffalo markets.The commission affirmed that and refused a request to stay its effective date, though it found that “in order to provide sufficient time for compliance,” it would give them 15 days from the Nov. 10 order release date to provide the programming.

Among other content, MSG and MSG Plus televise New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils National Hockey League games and the New York Knicks National Basketball Association games, should the pro hoops league end its lockout of its players.

The Media Bureau had initially said the feeds had to be provided by Nov. 14, while a deal had to be struck on reasonable terms and conditions by Oct. 22. They now have until Nov. 25 to make the feeds available.
The Media Bureau had ruled that Cablevision/Madison Square Garden Network violated FCC program-access rules by withholding HD versions of the RSNs.

The MSG HD battle is one of the longest running in the world of cable sports television. MSG was dropped from Dish Network last year and hasn’t come to a new agreement with them.

 

Some Regional Notes

Here’s a few regional television notes. I had tweeted some of these earlier but they deserve their own post:

  • MSG announced its new host of New York Islanders telecasts a few days ago. Peter Ruttgaizer is getting the job as Deb Placey’s successor. Ruttgaizer had been with Altitude as an Avalanche studio host and reporter the last three seasons.
  • While Rob Carlin would’ve made an obvious choice to replace Placey as he had already done some work during Isles telecasts, he’s off to Washington to replace Russ Thaler as host of the Capitals telecasts on CSN Mid-Atantic.
  • I had already mentioned that Dale Arnold has returned to NESN as Bruins host but NESN announced their complete 2011-12 Bruins coverage plans this morning. One of my favorite regional shows, The Instigators will return on October 27. I’m curious to see if Mike Milbury makes any cameos on the program as he was its star while he was with NESN. The network is also bringing back its weekly Bruins show Big Bad Bruins and it will air episodes of NHL Network’s Lord Stanley’s Summer throughout October.
 

Notes on NHL Territories and Sponsorships

It’s a holiday weekend here in the States but there’s some interesting news from the past week that should be noted. First up, let’s get to some news on NHL territories

ATLANTA TO GET CANES & PREDS ON TV

Since the Atlanta Thrashers are no more, that television market was up for grabs. Atlanta always struggled to gain viewership but it’s a large market and it shouldn’t be ignored. Nashville is the most obvious team to get the territory and they will get 40 games on the air there through Fox Sports South and SportSouth. But the Preds won’t have the territory to themselves, as the Hurricanes will also get to air 40 games in the market according to Canes beat writer Luke Decock. Decock also says that the Canes are looking into holding a preseason game in Atlanta next year. The Predators have also reached out to former Thrashers season ticket holders, trying to lure them to town.

WINNIPEG’S BROADCAST TERRITORY

There’s been lots of talk about the Jets and their broadcast territory and how it overlaps with Calgary and Edmonton. The three teams will share Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Jets games will be blacked out in Alberta while Flames and Oilers games will be blacked out in Manitoba outside of national broadcasts and Centre Ice. As for Northwestern Ontario, it appears that Winnipeg will share that with Ottawa and Toronto as both Ontario teams claim it as part of their broadcast territories.

SPONSOR NEWS IN COLUMBUS, VANCOUVER AND NEW YORK & THE BEER WAR

While this blog mainly focuses on hockey media, I try to include some business stuff as well, especially sponsor deals. Everyone knows that the Columbus Blue Jackets are having some financial issues but there’s a new buzz in the air with their new players. This has helped translate to a boost in ticket sales and renewals with several large sponsors. Columbus Business First reports that the Jackets have renewed deals with Coldwell Banker King Thompson, Columbia Gas of Ohio and Medical Mutual of Ohio. The article mentions that several more deals are on the way and that the team will meet its target for sponsorships for the upcoming season.

Over in Vancouver, the Canucks are losing a large sponsor. The Vancouver Sun is reporting that BC Ferries is dropping their Canucks sponsorship. BC Ferries has sponsored the team for years but not without controversy as the company is publicly owned and they have refused to reveal how much they have spent on the sponsorship and on seats for Canuck games.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders might have just signed the oddest sponsorship deal in the league. CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports that the Isles have inked a deal with Tattoo Lou’s to be the official tattoo shop of the team. The deal will put two tattoo artists and one piercer inside the Nassau Coliseum during 10 games. It’s the second odd deal for the Isles as the Isles had an official cupcake shop last season. The tattoo deal ranks up there with the San Jose Sharks and Bad Boys Bail Bonds as perhaps the oddest partnership in the league. Bad Boys has had dasher ads in San Jose and has sponsored some giveaways.

And finally, I’ve brought up the NHL official beer sponsor litigation several times and yes, it’s still going on. Last week, the parties were back in court and even NHL executive Bill Daly was on hand for the proceedings. The Toronto Star has a story on the latest court hearing and says Molson Coors is moving ahead with their plans to be the sponsor for the new season. It’s amazing that this case is dragging on so close to the start of the season and you have to wonder how much it will affect the league and it’s partners when it comes to advertising and marketing.

 

NOTES: Jets To Play on HDIC, Daniels Wins Award, Watters Under Fire & NeuLion GCL Stats

It’s Saturday, so I’m going to clean out my e-mail box and catch up on some stories from the past week.  I’ll start with a schedule change.

WINNIPEG JETS TO PLAY ON HOCKEY DAY IN CANADA

When the 2011-12 NHL schedule was released, many Winnipeg Jets fans were disappointed to find their team without a date for CBC’s annual Hockey Day in Canada all day broadcast.  Jets fans can now rest easy, as the NHL has moved their February 10 game at Pittsburgh to the next afternoon to be a part of HDIC.  The Jets game will apparently be shown on a regional basis as it’s scheduled to air at 2PM EST which is currently scheduled the same time as an Ottawa/Edmonton game.  Other HDIC matchups feature Toronto/Montreal and Vancouver/Calgary.

KEN DANIELS WINS AWARD

The television voice of the Detroit Red Wings, Ken Daniels was honored with an award on Tuesday evening. Daniels claimed the Ty Tyson Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting for work in the sports year 2010-11. The award is voted on by Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.  Previous winners of the Tyson Award include current Wings radio voice Ken Kal and former Wings broadcasters Ray Lane and Budd Lynch.

BILL WATTERS PUTS FOOT IN MOUTH

Former Rogers Sportsnet analyst Bill Watters ran into some trouble after making some comments on his AM640 radio show.  Watters used a possible slur to describe new Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson.  The blog, Pension Plan Puppets quoted Watters as saying the following -

Well, I’m at a loss. The only… you’ve got to look through his statistics, he’s got some offensive flair, he is not what you would call a rugged, truculent, testosteronic, guy… He’s more of a 3rd of July parade guy. He likes to enjoy the good life and I don’t, I just can’t put a reason behind why you’d give up on a 6’5 defenceman with offensive skill unless he’s just a bit too soft.

The comments raised plenty of eyebrows especially with Leafs GM Brian Burke an active participant when it comes to GLBT issues and July 3 was the date of Toronto’s Pride parade.  Corus Radio officials later tried to say that Watters meant that Franson likes “to party” but the damage was done.  There have been rumors for weeks that Watters may lose his radio show soon and these comments aren’t helping things.

NEULION ANNOUNCES GAMECENTER STATS

Digital broadcaster NeuLion announced some stats about NHL Gamecenter Live for 2010-11.  NeuLion handles all the infrastructure of GCL.  They announced that GCL saw a subscription gain of 31 percent.  GCL also saw an 83 percent gain in subscription renewals.  Also, NHL smartphone apps were downloaded 2 million times this past season.  New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is among the investors in NeuLion and is Chairman of the Board.  In addition, Wang’s wife, Nancy Li is the CEO and President of NeuLion.

Sources & More Info:

Winnipeg Game Changed to Sat. Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. – Pittsburgh Penguins – News.

FSD’s Daniels wins Ty Tyson Award.

Bill Watters Audio and AM640′s Response – Pension Plan Puppets

Pan The Parade – Pension Plan Puppets

The NHL and NeuLion Deliver Live and On-Demand Hockey to Record Audiences in 2010-11 Season – MarketWatch

 

Atlantic Division TV Season in Review

Our TV team reviews continue.  This time, the focus is on the Atlantic Division.  The Atlantic is unique in that three NHL teams share two networks.  This leads to many conflicts and some hard feelings between fans of each franchise.  The reviews are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 
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