Comcast and Xfinity have threatened to drop MSG Networks from their packages. With basketball and hockey camps open and regular seasons just around the corner, the timing is nothing short of strategic.
MSG Networks are the regional TV partner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and the Buffalo Sabres. The networks also carry the MLS’s New York Red Bulls.
“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,” a statement from MSG reads. “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 Networks is ready to continue working in good faith, however, we encourage Comcast Xfinity subscribers who want to watch the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Red Bulls to visit www.keepmsg.com for more information, including alternative providers in their area.”
The statement also points out that Comcast, which also owns the NBC networks, knows how valuable regional sports networks are to the fans they serve. Earlier this month, the company made that argument as part of a standoff with YouTubeTV about the NBC RSNs.
Media consultant and former FOX Sports executive Patrick Crakes pointed out on Twitter that the two standoffs illustrate how hard it is to be an RSN right now.
The current agreement between MSG Networks and Comcast expires Thursday at midnight.
FOX Thanksgiving MLS Game Sets Viewership Record For League
“It turned out to be the most-watched MLS match on English-language TV since 2004, and the most-watched MLS match ever on FOX.”
It was a record viewership day for Major League Soccer and FOX on Thanksgiving Day. The network saw nearly 2 million viewers tune in to an MLS Cup Playoff match following the Chicago Bears victory over the Lions in Detroit’s traditional holiday NFL game.
Thanksgiving Day is usually the NFL’s day, outside of Super Bowl Sunday, to shine on America’s televisions. MLB has the 4th of July, the NBA over the last decade and a half has claimed its stake on Christmas Day, and one could argue that New Year’s Day is one of the NHL’s biggest TV days with the Winter Classic. But typically NFL games are always associated with Thanksgiving Day.
MLS continues to grow its viewership, especially as the league expands into new media markets. In recent seasons you’ve seen expansion teams pop up in Minneapolis, Miami, Nashville and Austin, with Charlotte set to become the league’s newest franchise home in 2022. The league around this time of year is finishing its postseason and crowning a champion, and this year, MLS decided to have an MLS Cup Playoff game played on Thanksgiving Day in a tight window between the end the start of the NFL’s two marquee annual holiday matchups.
The Western Conference first round match between the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers on Thanksgiving turned out to be a success for MLS in terms of viewership. FOX Sports, which is the primary English-language broadcast rights holder for MLS, benefitted greatly from having the Lions game this year. The network was able to seamlessly transition from its NFL post-game show into a quick pre-match show for MLS, allowing the table to be set before kick-off.
According to FOX, the early afternoon game in Portland, mid-afternoon on the east coast, drew a record 1.85 million viewers. It turned out to be the most-watched MLS match on English-language TV since 2004, and the most-watched MLS match ever on FOX.
That number outdrew the Copa America final that aired on FS1 over the summer, which saw international soccer star Lionel Messi claim his first major tournament title with Argentina. An audience of 1.836 million tuned in for the battle between Argentina and Brazil.
While a tad below 2 million viewers didn’t make the contest the most-viewed sporting event on Thanksgiving this year, it appears MLS seems to have discovered something that could only get better in future years if the league wants to make futbol part of the football-dominated holiday media landscape.
Bob Iger Reportedly Wants To Buy Phoenix Suns
“Forbes currently values the Suns at $1.8 billion.”
Should the NBA’s Phoenix Suns come up for sale, it appears there’s at least one person potentially interested in buying them. That is former Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The team’s current majority owner, Robert Sarver, is being investigated by the league based on a detailed ESPN report that alleges Sarver created a toxic working environment within the franchise. The report cites incidents where Sarver exhibited racist or misogynistic behavior.
The league investigation is being spearheaded by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Like former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was eventually banned for life from the league after video showing him using racist language surfaced, Sarver could be forced to sell his ownership stake.
Forbes currently values the Suns at $1.8 billion.
Media reports say what makes Iger an appealing candidate is his connection to the commissioner and the commissioner’s office while with Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC. Both television brands are NBA broadcast rights holders.
The franchise’s current co-owners can turn down any potential buyer, and the league does have a formal sale process. So, it’s likely the team would sell for north of $2 billion if it hit the open market. That would likely require Iger to bring in ownership partners to make the sale happen.
Colin Cowherd Lets Listeners Decide If He Ever Talks About Baker Mayfield Again
“I am no longer captivated by Baker Mayfield topics.”
Colin Cowherd has been a critic of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield ever since he was drafted in 2018, but Cowherd may be out of the Baker Mayfield business going forward.
The Fox Sports host put up a video on Twitter about his feelings on Mayfield, and gave his fans of the show a rare opportunity to control some content that he talks about on the show.
“I was watching Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson play on Sunday Night, and Lamar had four picks, and still won, I thought he was fascinating. Didn’t play well but I thought he was fascinating, and I thought, Baker is easily the second most interesting quarterback in this game,” said Cowherd. “He is 28-28 as a starter, I was clearly right about the argument, I am no longer captivated by Baker Mayfield topics.”
That led to Cowherd putting up a Twitter poll and leaving the decision about how to proceed in the listeners’ hands.
“People ask me why I still talk about Baker, and I thought you know what, you are right. That is why I am going to let you decide whether or not I talk about Baker ever again. At 8:30 Pacific I am putting up a poll on Twitter which will decide whether or not I talk about Baker going forward.”
Cowherd then said that if the poll says that he should stop talking about Mayfield, that he will be done regardless of the circumstances.
“If he goes on a 5 game win streak, he gets to the playoffs, the AFC Championship, the Super Bowl, I won’t be talking about him, you can’t have it both ways.”
The results of the poll showed that the fans no longer wanted Cowherd to talk about Mayfield, a result which seemed to be the obvious choice considering how often his name comes out of Cowherds mouth.
It remains to be seen whether or not Cowherd will honor this going forward. If the Browns were to make the Super Bowl I find it extremely hard to believe that it won’t be a topic on his show, but it will be good to hear no repetitive Baker Mayfield talk for at least a little while from him.
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