Cablevision Brings Optimum Local Programming Unit under MSG Varsity

Cablevision Systems Corp. has merged its Optimum Local programming unit into its high school network, MSG Varsity.

The MSO said the move is aimed at better serving its subscribers with a wider range of local programming, which will be produced more cost-efficiently. Optimum Local produces such shows as Meet the Leaders, a forum for local officials and Neighborhood Journal, which provides looks at unique people, stories and happenings in different communities.

As a result of the union, MSG Varsity, which already presents various shows about clubs and academic activities in high schools, will air more local public affairs, educational and Optimum-branded programming by mid-year. A Cablevision spokeswoman could not provide more specifics as the revamped lineup is in development. MSG Varsity is exclusively available to Cablevision subscribers and is product differentiator for the MSO in its battle to acquire/retain customers in the tristate area.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that six staffers who worked on Cablevision News, a local program that runs weeknights on the MSO’s local access channel in that part of the Hudson Valley, will lose their jobs.

The spokeswoman confirmed that an unspecified number of positions were eliminated under the integration of Optimum Local into MSG Varsity

Cablevision News, though will continue to air under a somewhat different format on the local access channel. The spokeswoman noted that News 12, the MSO's news operation, doesn’t have a service that reaches into Dutchess County.

News 12 has outposts and channels that serve Cablevision customers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Westchester County (as well as Spanish-language versions in the Bronx and New Jersey). The format and manpower at News 12 are not being impacted by MSG Varsity's expansion, according to the spokeswoman.