|Type||Regional sports network|
|Broadcast area||New York|
Northern & Central New Jersey
Nationwide (via satellite)
|Headquarters||Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001|
Spanish (via SAP)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Key people||James L. Dolan (Chairman & CEO)|
|Sister channels||MSG Plus|
MSG Western New York
|Launched||October 15, 1969|
(U.S. cable internet subscribers only; requires login from participating providers to stream content; some events may not be available due to league rights restrictions)
|FuboTV||Available within designated area|
The MSG Network (MSG) is an American regional cable and satellite television network, and radio service owned by MSG Entertainment, Inc.—a spin-off of the main Madison Square Garden Company operation (itself a spin-off of local cable provider Cablevision).
Primarily serving the Mid-Atlantic United States, its programming focuses on events featuring and other programs about New York City sports teams, including live game broadcasts of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, and the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. The channel is named after the Madison Square Garden sports and entertainment venue in Midtown Manhattan, home of the Knicks and Rangers.
What would become MSG debuted on October 15, 1969, with an NHL hockey game between the New York Rangers and the Minnesota North Stars. As a result, it became the first regional sports network in North America, and one of the first of its kind in the world. The channel, which at the time did not even have a name, was carried by Manhattan Cable Television under a one-year, 125-event deal that was signed in May 1969. At the time, the cable provider, which had televised New York Knicks and Rangers post-season games the previous spring for a $25,000 rights fee, had only 13,000 subscribers. (The channel's coverage of the deciding game of the 1970 NBA Finals, in which the Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, was the only live broadcast of the game shown in New York City; WABC-TV blacked out ABC's telecast.) Madison Square Garden renewed the deal with what was now Sterling Manhattan Cable Television in the fall of 1970, in a five-year deal at an estimated rights fee of $1–1.5 million. Charles Dolan, who later headed MSG and Cablevision, was the president of Sterling Manhattan at the time. Games held at Madison Square Garden later appeared on another of Sterling Manhattan Cable's ventures, premium cable network Home Box Office (HBO) during the network's early years.
On September 22, 1977 another channel debuted as a joint-venture of UA-Columbia Cablevision and the Madison Square Garden Corp. This initially unnamed network was distributed nationally and later became known as the Madison Square Garden Sports Network. In 1980, this network was relaunched as the USA Network.
In 1977, the Madison Square Garden Corp, which included its namesake sports arena was sold to Gulf+Western. Around the same time, a separate network was created by the Madison Square Garden Corp. to distribute 125 events to New York-area cable systems. These events were in addition to the 250 already being produced for the national distribution. It was this network which became known as Madison Square Garden Television that would evolve into the current MSG Network.
On April 9, 1980, the channel began using both the full name "Madison Square Garden Network" and its new abbreviated form "MSG Network". In December 1988, MSG Network became the first cable network to secure all local television rights to a Major League Baseball team's game, signing a 12-year deal with the New York Yankees that would give it exclusive rights to 150 games per season from 1991 through 2000. Sources placed the value of the agreement at approximately $500 million. By the early 1990s, the channel would affiliate with Prime Network. In 1994, Paramount Communications was acquired by Viacom (itself a cable giant, having once owned various cable systems in the U.S. under the Viacom Cablevision banner and also owner of MTV Networks), which in turn sold the MSG properties to Cablevision and ITT Corporation, which each held a 50% ownership stake; ITT would sell its share to Cablevision three years later.
On October 5, 2006, MSG underwent an extensive rebrand with the introduction of a new logo and graphics package, and the removal of the word "Network" from the channel's promotions. Since the rebrand, the channel has incorporated more entertainment-oriented programming, including concerts and professional boxing and wrestling cards that have taken place at Madison Square Garden or Radio City Music Hall (both operated by MSG Entertainment). (Full length broadcasts of Madison Square Garden WWWF/WWF wrestling shows had already been previously screened by the MSG Network since the 1970s.) In February 2010, Cablevision spun off MSG Network, the Madison Square Garden venue and other related properties into The Madison Square Garden Company.
In September 2015, the MSG Networks division was spun out into a separate company, with The Madison Square Garden Company maintaining ownership of the venue and related properties. The company was split further in April 2020, with the sports properties operating as Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., and the venue and entertainment properties spun out as the publicly-traded Madison Square Garden Entertainment.
MSG controlling owner James L. Dolan began exploring a sale of the network in April 2017. On March 26, 2021, MSG Entertainment announced that it would acquire MSG Networks in an all-stock deal; the company stated that the purchase was part of an effort "to grow the company beyond its established collection of assets into one that is pioneering the next generation of entertainment." The acquisition was completed in July 2021.
Among other teams, it has long produced radio and television broadcasts of the NBA's New York Knicks, the NHL's New York Rangers and (until 2018) the WNBA's New York Liberty, which play their home games at the Garden. Upon its launch in 2014, MSG also became the television home of the Westchester Knicks, the New York Knicks' farm club in the NBA G League. Since 2013, MSG has also aired games from the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers' farm club in the AHL.
MSG also holds television rights to MLS's New York Red Bulls (which play at Red Bull Arena), and, beginning in 2017, the NASL's New York Cosmos. In 2010, MSG began broadcasting exclusive content from the NFL's New York Giants. Buffalo Bills content was added in 2016.
MSG also owns the television rights to the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and the AHL's Bridgeport Islanders and Rochester Americans. Islanders, Devils and (AHL Islanders) games air on MSG Plus, while Sabres and Americans games air on MSG Western New York in Western New York and are split between MSG and MSG Plus in the rest of upstate New York.
The network also broadcast nightly highlights of races held at tracks sanctioned by the New York Racing Association, as well as a weekly magazine show; live races (normally graded stakes races) also air on select Saturday afternoons. MSG Network broadcasts soccer events from the Premier League (since 2002, consisting of game rebroadcasts from Fox Soccer and later Fox Soccer Plus and a weekly highlight program) and the UEFA Champions League (since 2009, with a live game each Tuesday of competition, produced by Fox Soccer Plus, with a second game originally aired on Fox Soccer Plus also rebroadcast on MSG or MSG Plus).
It also runs extended highlights from concerts held at MSG or other venues owned by the Dolan family through the Cablevision Systems Corporation, along with other shows focused on New York musicians – which are frequently used as filler programming in blackout zones; as well as movies – generally sports-related, in addition to some Hollywood blockbusters and several New York sports-related fiction or documentary programs that were originally broadcast on ESPN, which are most commonly seen during the summer NHL and NBA offseason.
During the period of time in which sister station MSG Plus was a primary affiliate of Fox Sports Net (now known as Bally Sports as of 2021), MSG also acted as a secondary FSN affiliate, airing Fox Sports-produced programming in certain timeslots (such as the National Sports Report) and contributing footage to FSN shows. This ceased when the FSN branding was removed and FSN New York became MSG Plus, and FSN programming has since been split between MSG Plus and the YES Network (as Fox took a stake in YES in 2012).
MSG and MSG Plus also broadcast basketball games from the Metro Atlantic Athletic, Northeast, America East and Atlantic Coast Conferences; football games from the Southeastern Conference; and football and basketball games from the Pac-10 and Big 12 Conferences (with basketball games from the latter exclusive to women's teams). The Pac-10, Big 12 and ACC telecasts are carried though Fox Sports Networks (which maintains national broadcast rights to all three conferences), while the other games are either produced by the conferences themselves or through ESPN Plus. Additionally, MSG offers locally produced games from Hofstra University and other area colleges.
MSG formerly carried games from the Big East Conference, along with the coaches shows for Rutgers and St. John's University. In July 2008, the Big East and SportsNet New York announced a multi-year deal which gave SNY exclusive regional rights to Big East coaches shows and ESPN Plus-produced games. However, MSG retains rights to a reduced schedule of Big East games, including any St. John's basketball games played at Madison Square Garden.
MSG, NY, a daily sports highlights and entertainment program which served as the network's flagship program, debuted in October 2006. Aired numerous times during the day, the program originated as the sports-focused MSG Sportsdesk similar to ESPN's SportsCenter, until a format change that occurred as part of MSG's 2006 rebranding and reformatting in which sporting events remain the primary focus while a secondary focus was placed on all events at Madison Square Garden.
Anchors included Jason Horowitz, Deb Placey, Tina Cervasio, Al Trautwig, Greg Gumbel, Marv Albert, Jonathan Coachman, and Bill Daughtry.
The show however, gave expanded coverage to area sports teams that the channel holds game telecast rights; other New York City area teams were covered on the program, usually to a lesser extent. Along with coverage of Garden-related entertainment news, this was intended to prevent direct competition with SportsNite on SportsNet New York. MSG, NY was taped inside a street-level studio, with a window overlooking Madison Square Garden across the street. The program originally aired as a half-hour broadcast on Tuesday through Saturdays (with no editions on Sundays and Mondays, possibly as they were considered "low-viewership nights"), at about 10 or 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, with the exact time dependent on sports events schedules, before expanding to an hour-long nightly broadcast in 2008, based on improved ratings over its predecessor Sportsdesk. The studio is also used by SiTV Media Fuse. The show was cancelled in January 2009, due to the declining ratings; in its place, MSG usually offers team-specific post-game shows.
MSG's website, MSGNetworks.com, has offered exclusive podcast programming since 2006. These include:
From 1989 to 2001, the channel held cable television rights to the New York Yankees Major League Baseball franchise. MSG paid an average of $55 million a year for the broadcast rights, a deal that is widely credited with starting a national trend towards greater team coverage on regional sports networks, with more games being broadcast than the programming schedules of broadcast television stations could usually permit due to other programming commitments. MSG also produced radio broadcasts of Yankees games from 1994 to 2001, which aired on WABC (770 AM). MSG also held the over-the-air broadcast rights to Yankee games, which it sold to longtime broadcaster, independent station (later a WB affiliate) WPIX channel 11 from 1989 to 1998 and Fox owned-and-operated station WNYW (channel 5) from 1999 to 2001. In 2002, the Yankees terminated their agreement with MSG to form its own regional sports network, YES Network.
From 2002 to 2005, MSG held rights to Tuesday and Wednesday night games from the New York Mets, obtaining the rights from Fox Sports Net New York (MSG, Fox Sports New York and WPIX each carried about 50 games a season on consistent days of the week). Like the Yankees deal, MSG also maintained broadcast television rights, placing games on WWOR-TV (channel 9) before the games moved to WPIX in 1999.
Mets games moved to SportsNet New York, a regional sports network that is partially owned by the team (Comcast and Spectrum, which generally provide cable service to certain parts of the New York City metropolitan area – and in Spectrum's case, most of upstate New York – not served by Cablevision, or the other partners), after the 2005 season; although, WPIX retained rights to a reduced slate of games.
MSG was dropped from Dish Network due to a contract dispute in October 2010; the dispute remains unresolved. MSG was removed from Time Warner Cable at midnight on December 31, 2011 as the two companies could not agree on a new carriage contract; the network was restored on all TWC systems on February 17, 2012. MSG HD was not available on Verizon FiOS until several months after a court order forced MSG to provide the network's HD feed to that provider.
Along with MSG and MSG Plus, MSG also operates secondary channels, MSG2 and MSG Plus 2, which mainly serve to assist in scheduling the many sporting events it carries. Select New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils games also air on MSG when both teams play concurrently, with one airing on MSG Plus, which along with MSG and its alternate channels are officially referred to as MSG Media. In turn, select Rangers games air on MSG Plus, when Knicks telecasts are shown on MSG and no live game is airing on MSG Plus at the same time. Any sports event to which MSG holds the broadcast rights could air on either channel.
If more than two of the four local teams it carries are playing at the same time, MSG normally goes to the Knicks – the highest-rated property on the channel – except for instances when that night's game is scheduled for a late start time, in which case a Rangers game will air instead. In all other cases, Rangers games are broadcast on MSG2. Devils or Islanders games air on MSG Plus 2. If any teams are out of playoff contention, MSG will sometimes switch the order of priority among its teams. For several years in the 1990s when Cablevision had the rights to seven professional sports teams, an MSG3 overflow feed was occasionally used.
In the cases of MSG2 and MSG Plus 2, the alternate channels vary. Many cable providers use Pop to carry the overflow/alternate feed, while satellite providers use an alternate channel. In some cases, these channels are not available outside the New York City area; however, they are offered by DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast. In order to help alleviate confusion, MSG directs viewers to a special website.
See also: MSG Western New York
Following the collapse of Empire Sports Network and its parent, Adelphia, MSG also picked up rights to the Buffalo Sabres, and agreed to a 10-year contract in 2006. The Sabres, through its broadcast arm, the Sabres Hockey Network, control the entire broadcast, including the sale of advertising, and pre- and post-game programming.
During the inaugural season, all regionally-televised Sabres games were available to viewers outside of the New York City area, falling within MSG's "Zone 3" (Buffalo and Rochester) and "Zone 2" (which encompasses the remainder of Upstate New York and is shared with the Devils, Islanders, and Rangers). In Zone 3, all Sabres games were shown on the main MSG channel, but some games aired in Zone 2 on MSG Plus (then known as FSN New York) instead.
As part of a contract extension for the 2016–17 season, MSG entered into a joint venture with Terry and Kim Pegula's ownership group to create an expanded opt-out feed known as MSG Western New York over the former Zone 3. The feed is carried in place of MSG's main network within the Sabres' television market of Upstate New York (defined as virtually all of the state outside the New York City television market). In addition to coverage of Sabres games, the feed also carries Pegula-produced studio programming dedicated to the Sabres and their sister NFL team, the Buffalo Bills.
From the fall of 1998 until the spring of 2005, Cablevision chose not to launch an additional MSG2 channel, instead placing games on its MSG Metro Channels, which were only available in a limited coverage footprint. Sometimes, games were also carried by Riverhead–licensed WLNY-TV (channel 55). During this period, when two of the teams that the MSG channels maintained game broadcast rights to played against one another, only one broadcast would usually be produced using one of the team's announcing staffs (this was either due to MSG's television contracts or a desire to show a different sporting event at the same time).
With the discontinuation of Metro, and the loss of the New Jersey Nets from the network's winter lineup, the MSG channels now produce two broadcasts when two of the area teams with broadcast rights held by the network are playing against each other. Since 2009, the channel now has gone back to producing a single unified broadcast, though it will use two sets of commentators (particularly for Buffalo, where the Sabres' radio announcers are simply dubbed over the MSG broadcast when they play the Rangers, Islanders or Devils).
In 1996, ITT Corporation (then half-owner of MSG) entered a joint-venture with Dow Jones & Company to purchase WNYC-TV from the City of New York and convert it to a hybrid sports/business news format. The channel was renamed WBIS-TV and branded as "S+". Beginning in January 1997, several Knicks and Rangers games that would have otherwise aired on MSG were moved to WBIS. Select Devils, Islanders, and Nets games from SportsChannel also aired on WBIS, temporarily relieving some of the need for multiple overflow channels. However, this would be short lived as by June the S+ format was cancelled and ITT would soon be selling both its interests in both MSG and WBIS.
MSG HD is a high definition simulcast feed of MSG Network, which broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format, with the vast majority of content from MSG and Fox Sports Regional Networks broadcast in HD; as of 2017 only archived and paid programming is broadcast in standard definition. MSG HD is available nationally on DirecTV, Cablevision, Spectrum, Comcast, RCN, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS.
On January 22, 2009, the NHL and MSG became involved in a contract dispute which has resulted in MSG HD and MSG+ HD's broadcasts being pulled from NHL's GameCenter Live service for viewers outside of the primary markets for the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, with games presented in standard definition and upconverted to a stretched widescreen format. On March 17, 2010, beginning with the game between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, MSG HD and MSG+ HD broadcasts returned to NHL Center Ice (as confirmed by Gary Bettman during the NHL Hour broadcast).
Since its launch, MSG Network had blocked Verizon and AT&T from carrying MSG HD on any terms through a controversial guideline imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (known as the "terrestrial exception"), that was implemented to encourage investments in local programming, which stated that television channels that do not transmit via satellite uplink – MSG HD's programming is distributed to cable television providers through a terrestrial infrastructure using only microwave and fiber optic relays – have the authority to decide which pay television providers (cable, satellite or telco) can have access to its programming. Because the network was once owned by Cablevision (and remains under common control by the Dolan family to this day), MSG fought attempts by the telco providers to carry it despite the significant rights fees it could collect from carriage deals with those services. On September 22, 2011, the FCC ordered MSG to negotiate with both Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse for carriage on each system. MSG and Cablevision used every appeal available to keep the HD channels from being carried by both distributors; however on December 14, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied Cablevision/MSG Holdings' petition for review. Verizon FiOS began carrying MSG HD and MSG+ HD on its New York City area systems the next day, and AT&T U-Verse began carrying the HD feeds on its Connecticut systems later that month.
On March 24, 2010, MSG Network launched a 3D feed, MSG 3D, available only to Cablevision subscribers in the New York City area on channel 1300; its inaugural broadcast was a game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. This was a one time broadcast and MSG elected not to produce any more telecasts. Channel 1300 was eventually deleted from the system.
The radio division of MSG, known as the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Radio Network, produces Knicks, Rangers and Red Bulls broadcasts for New York City ESPN Radio station WEPN-FM (98.7) and other radio stations across the region. Prior to the fall of 2004, MSG-produced Knicks, Rangers and MetroStars games aired on WFAN. The coordinating producer of MSG Radio is Ray Santiago.
MSG Network also presents certain game telecasts with a Spanish-language audio track, accessible through the second audio program feature on most television sets, through simulcasts from its radio partners; all Knicks home games and selected away games that are simulcast from WADO (1280 AM), while a Spanish-language track of Red Bulls and Rangers games are simulcast from ESPN Deportes Radio station WEPN (1050 AM).
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