The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Comcast could drop MSG before NHL, NBA seasons
With the NHL and NBA seasons set to begin in the next months, some Connecticut fans of the Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and Knicks may be unable to watch their teams on TV.
Comcast, the cable provider that offers the network to 566,000 customers in areas that include Connecticut and New Jersey, may drop the MSG Network if the sides are unable to reach an agreement by Friday. The carriage agreement that offers MSG to Comcast Xfinity subscribers expires at midnight Thursday and negotiations are ongoing.
But it’s possible viewers will lose the network just weeks before the NHL (Oct. 12) and NBA (Oct. 19) seasons begin.
The sides are at odds over the value of the network. Comcast estimated that just 4% of its customers with the network watch 15 or more hours of MSG programming per year.
“Comcast’s agreements with programmers expire from time to time,” Kristen Roberts, vice president, communications for Comcast/Western New England Region, said in a statement. “We have successfully negotiated thousands of agreements with programmers and reached agreements in almost every instance. We would like to reach a fair deal with MSG that makes sense for our customers before the current one expires, allowing us to continue offering their networks on our channel lineup.”
MSG countered in a statement that Comcast has “shown zero interest in reaching an agreement.”
“We’ve been working to reach an agreement that is fair, reasonable and consistent with other major providers, while Comcast is demanding terms they’d never accept for their own regional sports networks, including SNY in New York,” the network’s statement said. “Xfinity customers do not deserve to lose MSG Networks’ coverage of their local sports teams, which includes hundreds of live games for the upcoming NBA and NHL seasons.”
MSG, which also televises the MLS’ New York Red Bulls, has created a website devoted to the standoff.