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Category Archives: MSG

Sabres Ratings Plummet Without TWC

As expected, the Buffalo Sabres are taking a big hit since MSG was pulled from Time Warner Cable. From The Buffalo News

The dispute between Time Warner and Madison Square Garden network, the New York City-based regional sports carrier with the exclusive rights to Sabres telecasts, plummeted the Sabres’ stratospheric television rating from an average season 8.3 share down to 3.2 for Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Edmonton at First Niagara Center.

In other words, nearly two-thirds of the TVs tuned into Sabres hockey — the NHL’s leading American television market — before the New Year are now darkened by MSG’s Jan. 1 removal from Time Warner.

In addition to the on-air sponsorships and commercials, the loss of air time is reducing dasher board and on-ice exposures, meaning sponsors and the Sabres are watching money and opportunities to reach a captivated audience circle the drain. The Sabres are particularly affected by the local advertising because the team, not MSG or Time Warner, sells and benefits from that advertising.

The Sabres have been doing some viewing parties to help the fans out but that’s little consolation to them. And as the story mentions, this really hurts the Sabres bottom line as they control all advertising of the games. The only thing MSG really does is help produce it and supply a cable channel. While much of the focus has been on the NYC area, nobody will feel the effects of this more than Buffalo.

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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Buffalo Sabres, MSG, NHL, Ratings, Television

 

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.

 

MSG, Time Warner Fight Rages On

The New York Rangers are posting some nice ratings gains but that momentum could be coming to an end. With a carriage deadline fast approaching, MSG and Time Warner Cable do not appear to be in serious discussion. From Variety –

MSG Network and Time Warner Cable seem ready to duke it out to a bitter year-end deadline, with New York sports fans pawns in the battle between the host of the Knicks, Rangers, Sabres, Islanders and Devils and the New York area’s major cable operator.
The two sides have “not had any recent, meaningful discussions” MSG Media president Mike Bair said in a statement Wednesday; their carriage deal expires Dec. 31.

A Time Warner Cable rep said “negotiations are ongoing and we are still hopeful.” But insiders acknowledged that while the two sides talk every day, contact hasn’t been fruitful.

Losing MSG on TWC would be a big blow to the New York hockey teams as Time Warner is the dominant carrier in both New York City and Buffalo. While the Sabres are overshadowed in this battle, their ratings are among the highest in the league and this dispute has the potential to drag them down. TWC controls virtually all of Western New York so this dispute has a wide ranging impact throughout the entire state.

MSG has been urging viewers to find alternative carriers. Unfortunately, one alternative isn’t available as MSG isn’t carried on Dish Network after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement back in October 2010. It’s likely that some Dish customers moved to TWC to get MSG and now they are again twisting in the wind. TWC claims they will not pull the plug on MSG, but you never know in these PR campaigns. Hopefully, the two sides can come up with a New Year’s miracle.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in MSG, NHL, Television

 

NHL Hypes Regional Ratings

This is a huge press release from the NHL, detailing various business and broadcasting numbers. I will post the full release after the jump. But first, I’m going to highlight some of the regional ratings that are included since much of the other information mentioned is dated and already known –

First Quarter Filled With TV Ratings Highlights

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth, including:

• Nashville (+200 percent)
• Carolina (+125 percent)
• Florida (+100 percent)
• Tampa Bay (+71 percent)
• Philadelphia (+60 percent)
• Boston (+57 percent)
• Minnesota (+53 percent)
• San Jose (+44 percent)
• Buffalo (+26 percent)
• Edmonton (+21 percent)
• New York Rangers (+14 percent)

There’s some huge bumps in there, but keep in mind that for many of the Southern teams, ratings couldn’t go much lower. In the case of the Predators, their local ratings are rarely published, so we don’t know where they previously ranked on the totem pole. Clearly, Florida is seeing a boost from their strong start but they have a long ways to go when it comes to being respectable ratings wise. It will be interesting to see if Carolina can continue that momentum since they have been struggling on the ice. A quick update. The Carolina and Nashville ratings include the Atlanta market for the first time. This helps explain their jumps a little bit. Either way, its good to see more people tuning in. Thanks to Dirk Hoag at On the Forecheck for the info.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

News & Notes

Here’s a few news items.

NHL INTERNATIONAL TV DOLLARS

First off, let’s start with a quote from David Shoalts’ latest column

NHL chief operating office John Collins will have good news to report about the league’s business in Europe and Asia. After a slow start, the television rights to the league’s overseas markets are now sold, with a deal in Russia the latest to fall into place.

In a confidential memo to the governors two years ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league took in $14-million (all figures U.S.) in European television rights, which it split 50-50 with Comcast, which then owned Versus, the league’s main U.S. carrier. Bettman also outlined a strategy of building the league’s presence on multiple platforms to show international advertisers it has a substantial audience in European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Last summer, the deal with ESPN America, which covered Europe and the Middle East, expired and Bettman decided to negotiate deals individually in each country. He took some heat for the slow start but Collins is expected to tell the governors the NHL will now earn more than double the previous deal, some $30-million, from its overseas broadcast revenue on different platforms.

Whether this number is true or not, who knows but the NHL has already been spinning its new                   international TV deals as huge victories. The fans might feel otherwise but its all rosy in New York. If these dollar figures are correct, don’t expect the NHL to go back to its old way of selling international rights. All that matters to them is dollars and cents, at least when it comes to this issue.

NYR RATINGS

Regional ratings continue to get leaked out. The New York Rangers are the latest and again, it shows some gains. From Sports Media Watch

Through 20 games, Rangers games have averaged a 0.80 rating on MSG Network in the New York market, up 7% from the comparable point last year (0.75).

Tuesday’s game between the Penguins and Rangers earned a 1.60 rating, a season-high.

Those aren’t great numbers, but more importantly, the numbers are up. As long as the Rangers can continue their strong play, the team should see some very high ratings, especially come playoff time.

BITS

  • The New York Times is featuring a terrific series on Derek Boogaard. The series will have three parts in total. It’s some of the best hockey writing of the year. Props to the Times for all their hard work on this story. It’s a must read for anyone whether you’re a sports fan or not.
  • Condolences to Detroit Red Wings play by play man Ken Daniels. His father passed away at the age of 96 on Friday. A familiar face to Wings fans filled in on Sunday – Dave Strader. Strader got his NHL start with the Wings before moving to ESPN. Matt Shepard will be on the air Tuesday. Shepard calls college hockey for Fox Sports Detroit along with his main duties as the voice of Michigan Wolverines basketball.
  • For those looking for previews of HBO’s 24/7 and the schedule, you can find them here. The schedule isn’t complete yet but HBO: 24/7 Flyers/Rangers Road to the Winter Classic will premiere every Wednesday, beginning on December 14. Liev Schreiber will narrate the series once again.
  • And speaking of the Winter Classic, Puck The Media has the details on this year’s NBC ad campaign. One of the ads feature Will Arnett and Luc Robitaille, among others singing “The Hockey Song.” It’s a clever campaign and lets hope it gets plenty of airtime during the NFL on NBC.
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in HBO, MSG, NBC, New York Rangers, NHL, Ratings, Television

 

A Few Scribbles

Here’s a few scribbles on NHL ratings and business as the weekend comes closer.

RATINGS UPDATE

We have some TSN ratings for you in addition to my prior post. TSN PR man Greg McIssac reports that Wednesday’s Toronto/Boston matchup drew a strong 1.27 million viewers on average. That’s not a surprise as the Leafs ratings continue to soar. Add in an rival and you have a very good number.

There’s been plenty of Boston Bruins ratings that have been leaking out lately. Each one seems to set a new record and that streak continues. Fang’s Bites reports that NESN had a record November with the B’s averaging a 5.3 rating. That’s up from the previous high of 4.0 which was garnered this past March.

The Bruins aren’t the only team with some impressive numbers. The Buffalo Sabres are always near the top of the ratings heap and their numbers are only growing. Ironically, the Bruins were involved in this one too. Puck The Media has the details –

The Buffalo Sabres’ tilt with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 23 drew the highest television rating so far this season for telecasts on MSG. The divisional matchup posted a 12.1 rating and a 20 share regionally. Ratings for the telecast actually peaked at 14.9 during the shootout when Boston’s Benoit Pouliot beat Jhonas Enroth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bruins.

“The matchup was arguably the most anticipated of the season,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. Our fans are awesome and we are very pleased and humbled by the fact that for the second straight month, the Buffalo Sabres’ television ratings on MSG continue to lead all US-based NHL teams.”

The 12.1 rating indicates that 12.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 20 share means 20 percent of households watching TV in the region Wednesday night were watching the game.

Last Wednesday’s ratings were the highest among the 19 Sabres games broadcast on MSG so far this season. The second-most viewed contest was the team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14, which drew an 11.5 rating and 18 share regionally.

On average, MSG telecasts of Sabres games have earned an 8.81 rating regionally so far this season. The team posted the highest ratings in three years during the month October when telecasts drew an average rating of 8.3.

BLUE JACKETS GET A NEW REPORTER 

When John Michael was named the new radio voice of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, that left the Columbus Blue Jackets searching for a new reporter. With the NBA lockout coming towards an end, the Jackets and Fox Sports Ohio have made their choice. Natalie Taylor will join Fox’s coverage beginning on December 8. Taylor is somewhat familiar to Ohioans as she’s previously worked in Columbus and for FS Ohio. Additionally, Taylor does have hockey in her past. She spent two years as the Atlanta Thrashers sideline reporter on SportSouth.

FORBES NHL VALUES

One of the most controversial things to come out every year is Forbes’ NHL valuations. The latest have been released and Toronto continues to hold the number one spot. The New York Rangers, Montreal, Detroit and Boston round out the top five. For more insight on the rankings and the league’s financial growth, check out Puck Drunk Love’s interview with Forbes Sr. Editor Kurt Badenhausen.

NHL SEES STRONG SALES OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

The Thanksgiving weekend brought record sales to NHL.com and the NHL store. From NHL.com –

The League saw strong sales growth of its licensed product over the holiday shopping weekend (Nov. 26 -29), illustrating an increased fan demand.

North American retail sales are up 11 percent post Black Friday, while NHL team store and concessionaires are up 15 percent in per cap sales year-to-date. Products driving sales growth include NHL Video Games, specifically EA Sports NHL 11 (up 20 percent), 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic apparel (up 41 percent), women’s apparel (up 52 percent), men’s apparel (up 22 percent), and Franklin NHL street hockey equipment (up 32 percent).

The NHL has also once again registered record-setting merchandise sales at both the NHL Powered by Reebok Store and at Shop.NHL.com over the Thanksgiving weekend. NHL Powered by Reebok recorded its largest Black Friday sales figures in the four year history of the New York City store with a 7 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking sales. The record-setting Thanksgiving weekend generated additional momentum in sales figures for the store. For the full month of November, sales were up 16 percent this year compared to last, and overall store sales this year (Jan.-Nov. 2010) have increased 9 percent from 2009.

Shop.NHL.Com experienced its second-highest grossing sales day ever on Black Friday with a remarkable 153 percent increase for the day over 2009. The highest grossing sales day to date on Shop is still the day after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.   Remarkably, 50 percent of customers on Black Friday were new to Shop.NHL.com.

The top-five selling items on Shop.NHL.com from Black Friday through Cyber Monday were:

* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic Premier Jersey
* Reebok New York Rangers Premier Third Jersey
* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 NHL Winter Classic Hooded Sweatshirt
* Reebok Philadelphia Flyers Premier Home Jersey
* Warner Home Video Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin Great 8 DVD

SPONSORSHIP UPDATE

Finally, there’s some sponsorship news out there that I have Tweeted but I haven’t posted about them so here we go. First off, you’ve probably noticed all those ads and rink signage for “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” the new movie that will be released on December 21. The ads are part of a deal the league signed with Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the league has long suited a film studio for a deal and it now has its wish.

And earlier this week, Visa Canada renewed its deal with the league. The new pact is for three years and makes Visa the official payment card of the NHL in Canada. While this is confusing, the deal doesn’t affect the league’s sponsorship with Discover in the US. The two companies have the same branding but can only use it for the country they are paying for, so don’t expect any Visa commercials on NBC and Versus anytime soon.

 

Ratings Watch

Here’s a look at some NHL ratings.

CANADA

These BBM ratings are sourced from the Canadian Sports Media Blog.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Florida/Toronto 783,000 viewers

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 9, 2011

TSN NY Rangers/Ottawa 448,000

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2011

TSN Toronto/St. Louis 1,170,000

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2011

CBC Scotiabank Hockey Tonight 1,245,000
CBC 7 PM Regional (OTT/TOR, WPG/CBJ, MTL/NSH) 2,250,000
CBC 10 PM Calgary/Colorado 757,000

UNITED STATES – VERSUS

Unfortunately, the Versus game ratings were unavailable for this past week but judging by the post-game ratings, they probably weren’t all that impressive anyhow. These Nielsen ratings are sourced from The Voice of TV.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 7, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 66,000 41,000 A18-49
10:00 PM NHL Overtime 25,000 13,000

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 116,000 51,000
10:30 PM NHL Overtime 59,000 45,000

UNITED STATES – REGIONAL

We have some regional ratings from Boston and Buffalo. First up, from BostInnovation are some Bruins ratings –

Whatever the case, the network has recorded two of its highest regular season game ratings in the past few weeks, and they’ve done it without the studio show host that so many people came to associate with the Bruins over the past few years. A 5.2 household rating was earned for the November 7th matchup with the New York Islanders, and that number was bested by Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which did a 5.3 – good for third in the network’s regular-season history all-time.

Despite a slow start for the Bruins, NESN still has a 3.9 household rating on the season, which is a 46% increase over last season through the same number of games, according to Puck the Media.

NESN’S Thursday night broadcast against Columbus brought in big ratings. This comes from NESN PR guy Gary Roy’s twitter account  –

Another season best #Bruins rating on @NESN last night – 6.1 HH the new 3rd best reg season rating in NESN history #NESNTV

In case you are wondering, the 2nd best reg season rating inNESN history was a 6.2 HH on 3/18/10 vs. Pittsburgh #NESNTV

Sabres ratings come from Buffalo Business First

The Buffalo Sabres drew the highest local television ratings in the National Hockey League through the month of October and up 15.2 percent compared to the same month last year.

Sabres games broadcast on rightsholder MSG network averaged an 8.3 rating last month, the highest number in three years for the Buffalo market. That compares to a 7.2 rating in 2010-11 and a 6.7 rating to start the 2009-10 season,

The 8.3 average rating represents approximately 54,000 households in the Buffalo market throughout October and takes into account the two afternoon games the team played while in Europe to start the season. In primetime games on MSG, the Sabres telecasts averaged a 9.3 rating and approximately 60,000 viewing households. The team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14 drew the largest audience, with an 11.5 rating and approximately 74,000 households.