MSG Remains Dark on Time Warner Cable as Negotiating Stalemate Continues

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Now more than a month into dispute that has resulted in a disconnect, there doesn't appear to be much light in the license fee tunnel for MSG and MSG Plus with Time Warner Cable.
Both parties remain entrenched in their positions, following the regional sports networks pulling their signals on Jan. 1. There apparently haven't been any meaningful conversations since the end of 2011.

"There is no progress with Time Warner Cable, they have rejected every overture of ours to get together to reach a fair agreement. Time Warner Cable subscribers will continue to miss games for the foreseeable future, so we are continuing to urge fans to switch providers," said MSG Media president Michael Bair.

The two regional sports networks carry New York Knicks NBA games, as well as the NHL's New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

Outside of MSG's former corporate parent Cablevision Systems, which has some 3 million subs in the New York DMA, Time Warner Cable is the programmer's largest carrier. The nation's No. 2 cable operator has 2.3 million video customers in the New York DMA and in upstate New York.

Time Warner Cable, which dropped MSG Media's national music service in mid-December, avows that MSG pulled back from a deal to increase its monthly license fee by 6.5% earlier that month. In turn, it said MSG sought a 53% hike for its programming.

MSG has repeatedly characterized the figure as "a gross mischaracterization."

While the networks remain dark to the MSO's customers, MSG Media has run a number of ads and hosted various viewing parties in the New York and Buffalo DMAs, offering fans team-related merchandise and tickets, as it promulgates its message to switch from Time Warner Cable to other providers.
For its part, TWC held a sweepstakes that brought 20 Knicks fans to the club's Jan. 24 encounter with the Charlotte Bobcats in the Time Warner Cable Arena in that North Carolina city.
After making its Sports Pass package available for free in January in the aftermath of losing MSG and MSG Plus, the MSO has extended its offer of the 15-channel tier, which typically retails for $5.95, into February.

There have also been reports about the MSO offering credits and other financial incentives to retain the video service in the Buffalo area.

Despite its absence on Time Warner Cable systems in 2012, ratings remain strong for Knicks and Rangers games in the New York DMA overall. Seventeen Knicks telecasts on MSG (with the lockout-shortened NBA season only two of the club's games aired on the RSN in 2011) have averaged a 1.86 rating in the New York DMA, according to Nielsen data. That's up 72% from a 1.08 mark through this stage of the 2010-11 campaign.
On the ice, the Rangers have been skating at or near the top of the NHL for most of the season. On MSG, 41 Broadway Blueshirts' telecasts were ahead 13% to a 0.88 average in the Big Apple environs.
Upstate in the Buffalo area, fans remain fervid about their team, even though it is having a sub-.500 season and currently sits fourth in the Northeast Division. Through the All-Star break, MSG averaged a 7.8 local TV rating with team telecasts, up 15% from last season. At that level, the Sabres have scored the highest Nielsen household RSN rating in the league.

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