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MSG Net Adds More Interactive Options

Madison Square Garden Network is revamping its new-media initiatives to provide viewers with more interactive options, said MSG Networks executive vice president Mike McCarthy.

The network is retooling its Web site (www.msgnetwork.com) to bolster its interactive features. McCarthy said the site could feature several options related to the network's telecasts of New York Knicks basketball and New York Rangers hockey games, including the ability to view a play from different angles.

The Madison Square Garden arena currently offers technology from ChoiceSeat, which allows viewers in specially outfitted seats to access statistical information; league, team and player profiles; several live camera angles; replay channels; and stored video and audio channels.

In the near future, McCarthy said, those applications could be brought to the Web site for in-home use. The site would also include other interactive applications related to the network.

"We at MSGN want to be one of the main content providers as consumers begin to use the new [cable-modem Internet] technology at home," McCarthy said.

The network will also continue to offer games in high-definition format, said McCarthy. He took over the day-to-day TV operations after Joseph Cohen was elevated to executive vice president of development for MSG.

At present, all live games from both MSGN and sister service Fox Sports Net New York are transmitted in HDTV.

MSGN also hopes to retain one of its marquee sports properties, Major League Baseball's New York Yankees.

McCarthy said he wasn't in a position to comment on television-rights talks between MSGN and YankeeNets, the entity that handles the Yankees' TV negotiations. But the two sides are still talking after postponing a Sept. 18 deadline for MSGN to match a bid for Yankees cable rights.

YankeeNets had given MSGN until that date to accept or refuse its proposal for an $1.3 billion up-front fee, or $2.5 billion over 10 years, for rights to games after this season. If MSGN and YankeeNets don't come to terms, YankeeNets could be in position to launch a competing regional sports network.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.