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MSG Media Fusing Venue Connections

Paul Simon will reopen the refurbished Beacon Theatre, owned by Cablevision's MSG, with a concert Feb. 13.

Simon's upcoming performance isn't the only thing on the docket for various arms of MSG Media, also owned by the Bethpage, N.Y.-headquartered cable operator, which have developed and are disseminating content tied to the landmark venue's $15 million restoration.

For one, national music network Fuse -- which since November has been part of MSG Media, comprising network MSG and MSG Plus, as well as MSG Interactive, a collection of 16 different digital assets, VOD and wireless products -- has been running content pieces about the building's renovation.
Tagged with "Fuse On Tour Packaging" bug within the network's # 1 Countdown show, the five segments, through footage from MSG, photos, art work and music video, chronicle the 2,800-seat venue's renovation against the backdrop of five musical genres: rock, alternative, hip hop, pop and viewer's choice.
Footage from the reopening event -- red carpet, interviews, possible performance footage -- will be packaged for use on Fuse.tv, MSG.com, and the Beacontheatre.com, operated by MSG Media.
For its part, MSG is producing a one-hour original documentary on the Beacon's makeover that will premiere in April, while MSG.com will tease the film through clips and a photo gallery.

This deployment of assets is emblematic of how MSG Media plans to create even more content going forward for its linear and digital properties.

"Some companies have the content and distribution pieces, but we're able to combine the venues," said MSG Media president Mike Bair of the Beacon, Madison Square Garden, the WaMu Theater and Radio City Music Hall.
"Our goal is to capture the experiences with sports [New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty] and music that people enjoy there and develop content that we can leverage across our different platforms," Bair said.
From a promotional perspective, that task now falls to Carol Albert as senior vice president of MSG Media, who previously held the same title at the NBA. In her new post, Albert is charged with raising the visibility of the company's local and national brands, and guiding strategic marketing initiatives for the three networks and MSG Interactive.
Bair said the access to those venues is a focal point for Fuse, which continues to try to make a more aggressive push into the music business.
"There are more events at these venues, and we have deeper connections and rolodex than anyone else," he said. "We want Fuse to celebrate music and artists."
That means producing more behind-the-scenes footage with the performers, more interview segments from the venues and Fuse studios across from MSG on 32 Street. It also means gaining more performance rights and buttressing the "Fuse Rocks The Garden" franchise, which has featured HD presentations of Foo Fighters and The Cure concerts. Fuse has also airedFall Out Boy: Live From Chicago Theatre.
Fuse also hopes to score with such tentpoles events as the upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, which previously aired on VH1, and the Lollapalooza and Bonnarroo festivals, with linear coverage and a host of attendant content applications on fuse.tv and FuseMobile.
This heightened musical note follows the exit of Eric Sherman who left at year-end. Bair -- who last week announced Rainbow veteran Dan Ronayne, most recently the head of the programmer's VOD services, as general manager of MSG and MSG Plus -- is looking for a successor to the former VHI executive, who came to network in April 2007. An internal and external search for candidates is underway, according to Bair.

Looking ahead, Bair envisions Fuse, which is considering a cross-generational music performance show, a la CMT's Crossroads, debuting a new weekly original series in 2009.
"Over the course of the year, we'd like to develop a plan, and build our base toward more original programming for 2010," Bair said.
He expects more concerts and studio-produced documentaries to be part of that scheduling symphony.
"MTV has built an audience with a certain [reality] kind of shows," he said. "Fuse is going to seek out more music."