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.