MSG Networks is warning that Comcast Xfinity cable subscribers could miss the beginning of the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League seasons when their distribution agreement expires Thursday at midnight.
Comcast carries MSG Networks in New Jersey and Connecticut. The sports network carries New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils games. It also has games of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
Comcast owns NBCUniversal and its own regional sports networks, including SNY in the New York region.
Regional sports networks are among the most expensive channels in terms of the fees they command from distributors. Dish Network has largely stopped carrying RSNs and some of the virtual MVPDs have not reached deals to carry Sinclair Broadcast Group's collection of Bally Sports networks.
“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,” MSG Networks said in a statement.
“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,” MSG said.
Comcast said it has a record of reaching deals with programmers (though its New York area customers were without YES Network for more than a year in a dispute that began in 2015).
“Comcast’s agreements with programmers expire from time to time. We have successfully negotiated thousands of agreements with programmers and reached agreements in almost every instance," Comcast said. "We would like to reach a fair deal with MSG that makes sense for our customers before the current one expires, allowing us to continue offering their networks on our channel lineup.”
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