New York -- As expected, the MSG Metro Guide channel will
be the home of overflow games from Madison Square Garden Network and Fox Sports New York.
The local news and information service carried the Dec. 26
Buffalo Sabres-New Jersey Devils National Hockey League game, and it will air the Jan. 26
Boston Bruins-New York Islanders NHL contest.
Along with Cablevision Systems Corp.'s 2.4 million
subscribers, Metro Guide recently picked up 1.1 million subscribers from Time Warner
Cable's New York City system, but the deal doesn't go in effect until late
A Time Warner spokeswoman, however, said the operator will
show the NHL games as part of several upcoming previews of the channel.
For months, speculation was that MSGN and FSNY - which
were unable to make money by opening up a third channel to carry scheduling conflicts
between their professional teams -- would use MSG Metro Guide as a live sports outlet.
Rainbow's parent, Cablevision Systems Corp., which
also owns MSGN and FSNY, has come under fire recently in the consumer press for not
telecasting a number of Islanders and Devils games because of scheduling conflicts. Both
teams have deals with FSNY.
If the National Basketball Association lockout is resolved,
the addition of New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets games will create further scheduling
conflicts for both MSGN and FSNY.
Joe Cohen, executive vice president of MSGN, said its
attempt to offer a third sports channel to compensate for scheduling conflicts didn't
work from a ratings or an advertising-revenue standpoint.
"Putting games out there alone is not viewer-friendly,
but the MSG Metro Channels can be promoted in a better way," Cohen said.
Offering live, ratings-rich games could also give cable
operators an advantage over competitors, since the service is currently exclusive to
cable. As a terrestrially delivered product, MSG Metro Channels are not subject to federal
But Laurie Giddins, a Rainbow senior vice president and the
executive in charge of the MSG Metro Channels, said there are no plans to move a package
of games over to that service.
"We've done some high-school and local college
games, but we have no plans for anything else except these conflict games," Giddins
said. "The games that we will carry complete the programming philosophy that we have
to deliver the equivalent of the Sunday newspaper to viewers."
"You'll only see games that have scheduling
conflicts," Cohen added.
MSGN will produce the MSG Metro Guide games, as well as
selling available ad time.
The games also give the MSG Metro Channels more awareness
in the marketplace, which could help the services to finalize distribution deals with
several other area systems.
"Those discussions are under way," Giddins said.