UPDATE, 3:18 PM: MSG just issued a statement saying that it has “a tentative agreement” with Time Warner Cable to carry MSG, MSG+ and Fuse “effective immediately.” The company thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and NBA Commissioner David Stern. MSG also says that it’s “committed to providing our fans with award-winning programming that continues to warrant their loyalty and allegiance, and we thank them for their patience.” Schneiderman is claiming credit for having “worked diligently with Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks over the last month to bring about a resolution to their dispute.”
PREVIOUS, 1:40 PM: We’ve confirmed that Time Warner Cable will have MSG on for tonight’s game. The No. 2 operator also has agreed to keep carrying Fuse, MSG’s low-rated music channel. MSG would have lost $10M a year in revenue if Time Warner Cable had dropped the channel. But Mike Angus, Time Warner Cable’s SVP Content Acquisition, said in December that fewer than one-tenth of Fuse’s potential viewers tuned in — making MSG’s effort to package it with its popular sports networks “nothing more than a tax on New York sports fans.”
PREVIOUS, 12:54 PM: New York basketball fans, and owners of Madison Square Garden stock, can rejoice. The 48-day contract dispute that kept regional sports channel MSG off of Time Warner Cable is over — with final terms expected before the New York Knicks’ game tonight with … Read More »
The live entertainment and cable network company’s shares are hitting record highs as even non-basketball fans become fascinated with New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s historic scoring streak. MSG’s at $32.24 in midday trading, up 3.5% vs Friday — and +11.3% so far in the month of February. The timing couldn’t be better for MSG Chairman Jim Dolan. The company — which owns the Knicks, the Garden, and regional sports channels MSG and MSG+ — needed a good story to tell after last year’s NBA work stoppage contributed to a dreary year-end financial report. And if Lin-sanity continues, then it could give Dolan the upper hand in his showdown with Time Warner Cable. Due to a contract dispute, MSG’s channels have been dark on the cable system since the beginning of the year. Time Warner Cable balked at MSG’s price demands, and also wants to drop MSG’s low-rated Fuse music channel. Dolan took a huge risk by holding out: Time Warner Cable accounts for about 2.5M MSG subscribers, about a third of its total. The $112M that the cable company pays annually for the channels amounts to about half of Madison Square Garden’s estimated cash flow for its current fiscal year. The company said last week that no talks with the cable provider have been scheduled. But Time Warner Cable may find itself playing defense if many of the basketball fans among its New York customers decide to switch to a different … Read More »
SUNDAY 12:49 PM, 4TH UPDATE: No progress. The war of words continues with Time Warner saying that the cable system had reached an agreement “last year” to pay MSG the 6.5% price hike it requested at the time. TWC says MSG without warning reneged on that agreement and came back with a new demand for a 53% increase and has refused to budge. Read More »
It will be interesting to see whether Cablevision ever discloses how much it spent on legal bills since 2009 to prevent customers of Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse from seeing HD feeds of MSG and MSG+. The regional sports channels are owned by Madison Square Garden, a company that’s controled by the Dolan family which also controls Cablevision. Whatever the cost, it seems to have been for naught: Cablevision today threw in the towel in one of the industry’s longest and most baffling battles after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the company’s appeal of an FCC order in September requiring MSG to provide the HD feeds to two of its toughest competitors. FiOS customers in the New York area began to receive the sports channels in HD today; U-verse should have them soon. Read More »
One of cable’s most irksome long-running battles isn’t over yet: Cablevision is appealing an FCC order that requires MSG — which the cable operator controls — to offer HD feeds of its two New York regional sports channels to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. That announcement followed a statement from Verizon today saying that it had “a home-team win in overtime” and promising to offer HD versions of MSG and MSG+ in December to FiOS TV customers in all service packages except FiOS TV Local. The HD feeds are a big deal to fans of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils.
Cablevision’s appeal continues a dispute that began in 2009 – and that seemed to have reached an end last week. The FCC formally approved a decision from its Media Bureau requiring MSG to deal with FiOS and AT&T, and the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused Cablevision’s request to stay the FCC order. But Cablevision says it is returning to the court for a stay while it seeks a review of the FCC’s orders. “We continue to believe that an unbiased review of the data can only result in one conclusion: that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies,” Cablevision says. “In a highly competitive marketplace like New York, a forced sharing of offerings only deters companies from investing and innovating, which hurts both fair competition and consumers.” Read More »
The FCC today has ruled that a pair of high-definition regional sports channels operated by Madison Square Garden must be offered to Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse video services. The move comes after the phone companies filed a complaint in July that said MSG hindered competition by refusing to sell the formats in the greater New York region — limiting their availability to Cablevision, which spun off MSG last year. ”By directing Cablevision and MSG to make their high-definition programming available within 30 days, the decision promises to give consumers in New York and New Jersey a choice to obtain the sports programming they want,” Verizon SVP and deputy general counsel Mike Glover said in a statement. Verizon also had to petition the FCC in 2006 to gain access to standard-definition versions of the channels.
Cablevision will appeal the FCC decision. The cable company said in a statement that ”the data clearly demonstrates that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies as a result of not having two HD channels they already receive in SD….Instead of competing on the merits in the marketplace, Verizon and AT&T are manipulating federal law to gain an unfair advantage.”