NEW YORK—After being unable to come to a new carriage agreement, the MSG Networks have gone dark on Comcast’s Xfinity channel lineup, primarily in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The MSG Networks carry games from New York Knicks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders. A prolonged dispute could keep the games off the cable systems as the NBA and NHL seasons begin.
Regional sports networks are some of the more expensive channels carried on pay TV packages and have been the subject of increasingly contentious negotiations between operators and programmers.
In a statement, MSG Networks complained that: “Right when fans are looking forward to the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, Comcast dropped MSG Networks to try to force us to accept terms they’d never agree to for their own regional sports networks, including SNY in New York. They rejected proposals that are consistent with their current deal and deals we have with other major providers, as well as our offer to keep our programming on air under existing terms so we could continue to work on a longer-term agreement. And even though they’ve taken away hundreds of live Knicks, Devils, Rangers and Islanders games, they continue to charge Xfinity customers the same monthly rate -- in addition to a regional sports fee that they increased 22% in January to more than $10 per month. Comcast’s refusal to negotiate is deeply disappointing.”
In response Comcast issued this statement: “We don’t believe that our customers should have to pay the millions of dollars in fees that MSG is demanding for some of the most expensive sports content in the country with extremely low viewership in our markets. We have successfully negotiated thousands of agreements with programmers and reached agreements in almost every instance and are disappointed that MSG decided to pull their content rather than reach a fair agreement.”
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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