Renovations Are Underway at MSG Network

Madison Square Garden Network will dribble in some concert-based programming to supplement its coverage of the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks as part of an overall relaunch of the network.

Armed with a new on-air logo and on-air look, the newly-branded MSG will continue its metamorphosis from an all-sports network to a sports/entertainment hybrid — a transition that began this summer, when it added more entertainment-based elements to compliment its live sports telecasts.

Network president Mike Bair said the revamp will extend to its current news show, SportsDesk, which will include more coverage of non-sports events from the channel's namesake arena, as well as a monthly series that will go behind the scenes at live arena concerts.

“You can expect to not only see the game, itself but everything around the games that makes coming to see the Knicks at the Garden special,” he said. “Our desire is to take the Garden experience in those particular events to those viewers wherever they happen to be.”

MSG's move to diversify its programming lineup — which follows the loss of marquee pro-sports content such as New York Yankees and New York Mets Major League Baseball games to competing, team-owned regional sports services — began this summer with the launch of themed nights that featured such content as vintage Knicks games and archival World Wrestling Entertainment matches.

Network executives would not reveal summer ratings, but did admit the service's third-quarter numbers were “drastically” down from the same period last year, when the channel televised Mets games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Nevertheless, Bair labeled MSG's move to incorporate more entertainment based programming successful.

As part of the network's rebranding effort, MSG will launch Oct. 31 The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden, a 10-part series that will focus on past sports and entertainment-based shows at the Garden.

“This is a deep, rich series and the stories are told in the context of when it happened,” he said, adding that he hopes the series will spawn other projects based on Madison Square Garden events in the future.

MSG also will relaunch SportsDesk on Oct. 16. The new nightly show, dubbed MSG, NY, will mix sports news with entertainment elements from Garden events.

Other entertainment-based shows include Soundcheck, a monthly series that will take viewers behind the scenes of Garden concerts, even if MSG itself doesn't have the full TV rights to the events.

Bair said he's confident that the network will eventually secure TV rights to marquee non-sports Garden events to build greater appeal for the channel.

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.