MSG Networks Locks Up Devils

In a pre-emptive strike against a proposed Comcast Corp./Time Warner Cable/New York Mets network, Madison Square Garden Networks Monday reached a long-term carriage agreement with the currently locked-out National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.

Terms of the 20-year deal, which extends through the 2023-24 season, were not disclosed. MSGN’s prior deal with the Devils was set to expire after the 2006-07 season.

The deal calls for Fox Sports New York to air 75 regular-season games each season.

Just two years, ago the Devils were expected to move to Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network as part of a multiteam partnership deal between Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets and the Devils. But the partnership dissolved earlier this year, although YES still carries Yankees and Nets games.

The MSGN-Devils deal also keeps the proposed New York Mets-owned regional sports network from securing a carriage deal with a winter pro-sports team.

The new service is expected to launch in spring 2006 with Mets baseball telecasts. That team’s current deal with MSGN expires at the end of the 2005 season.

"The New Jersey Devils have been a wonderful organization to work with and an integral part of our MSG Networks family for the last two decades," MSG Networks president Mike McCarthy said in a prepared statement.

"Solidifying a long-term agreement with the Devils enables MSG Networks to continue to be the only home for local NHL hockey for at least the next 20 years," he added.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.