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MSG Varsity’s HD Education

It’s been said that kids grow up
a lot between their freshman and sophomore
years.The same is evidently true of MSG Varsity,
Cablevision’s network devoted to all things
high school, which is about to return to school.

During the 2010-11 academic year, MSG
Varsity will be presented in high-definition,
kick off a “Friday Night Football” package,
revamp its Web site and flanking interactive
channel, and publish a magazine previewing
the upcoming fall season.

MSG Varsity general manager Theresa
Chillianis said the network will soft-launch
in HD on Aug. 24, making MSG Varsity the
only all high-school channel to transmit in
the enhanced format.

“We recognize that viewers expect sports
to be in HD,” she said. “It represents an increase
in professionalism and something we
think our community is really going to enjoy.”

After showing games live-to-tape during
its rookie year, MSG Varsity will showcase its
HD-quality images with its first live telecast
on Sept. 10 with the “Friday Night Football”
contest between Immaculata High School at
Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, N.J. Steve
Levy and Lou Brogno will call the match-up.

Rather than feature its usual split telecasts
by geographic area, the 12 Friday
night pigskin match-ups will air across all
of the network’s four regions.

“Friday night football is a big deal for a
number of schools,” Chillianis said. “We’re
looking at some very competitive games.”

Those contests will come replete with pregame
and halftime segments. MSG Varsity
will also have a big presence on-site, with
interactive booths and games to draw in the

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, High School
, the network’s flagship daily
news and information program, will start
an hour earlier at 6 p.m. Hosted by Jared
Greenberg and Shawna Ryan, High School
SportsDesk features daily sports highlights,
team breakdowns, athlete interviews
and rankings from MSG Varsity’s
team of experts. On Friday evenings, the
show will serve as a lead-in to the live
gridiron telecasts.

After starting with 60 schools when
it bowed last Sept. 24, MSG Varsity “established
relationships” with 85% of the
schools in its New York DMA footprint by
the close of the 2009-10 school year. Th at
meant forming ties with the principal, an
administrator, athletic director, coach,
teacher or media advisor at the schools.

“The first year was all about getting out there
and making connections with the schools and
the communities,” Chillianis said.

Last year, MSG Varsity, under its “High
School Sports Showcase” banner, aired 400
professionally produced games, featuring
multiple cameras and on-air commentators;
Chillianis said the network will match
that in the upcoming campaign. Another
2,600 contests were shot by students and
MSG Varsity staffers.

Chillianis also said digital enhancements
will be unveiled on Sept. 7. In addition
to new looks and improved navigation,
there will be improved search functionality,
video player and interactive photo galleries,
as well as the ability to receive texts
or alerts when
new content
about a school
is added.
Channel 614 allows viewers to create
their own personal MSG Varsity experience,
making it specific or expansive. For
those more interested in a hyperlocal experience,
MSG Varsity interactive users can
set preferences for a particular region or
even their own school.
All of the content available on MSG can be viewed anytime on the
interactive TV channel, offering more than
10,000 videos on demand. Students at the
network’s media partners — armed with
HD cameras, editing computers and training
tips — have created approximately
7,000 shorts, not only about sports. The student
interviews cover everything from inside
looks at school bands, debate teams
and other clubs to other aspects of high
school life.
During the week of Sept. 13, the network
will begin distributing its publication MSG
Varsity The Magazine
. Sporting four regional
covers, the 68-page magazine will preview
football and other fall sports.

“We’ll drop off 50 to 100 copies at the
principal and AD’s office at every school
and also use them as on-site giveaways,”
Chillianis explained, noting the publication
will also be available at MSGVarsity.

In keeping with its non-commercial bent,
the magazine does not include advertising.

However, Chillianis said MSG Varsity is
not averse to working with more “thirdparty
providers that can add value to our
students and schools.

To that end, the service in June reached
an agreement with educational services
firm Kaplan that enables Cablevision’s Optimum
customers to receive its PSAT and/
or SAT online prep courses online (a $99 value)
for students to review and engage in testtaking
strategies, as well as gain access to
the company’s exclusive Webinar series. Kaplan
also is offering a 10% discount, through
Oct. 15, off the retail price on some programs,
including college and graduate test
prep courses.


The editors of Multichannel News have
chosen Cablevision as the 2010 Operator
of the Year. On September 27, we’ll take
an in-depth look at how Cablevision has
led in financial performance among its
peers through robust growth in broadband
services and strong performance
against one of the most aggressive telephone
rivals in the U.S.