MSG Network

MSG Network
Madison Square Garden Network (MSG Network)
MSG Network.svg
Launched October 15, 1969
Owned by Madison Square Garden, Inc., spun off in February 2010 from Cablevision
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Country United States
Language American English
Broadcast area NY metro area; nationwide
Headquarters Pennsylvania Plaza, New York City
Replaced Empire Sports Network
(Western New York only)
Sister channel(s) MSG Plus
Website MSG Network
DirecTV 634 MSG (SD/HD)
636 MSG 2 (636-1 HD)
638 MSG 3 (Buffalo Sabres games only / 638-1 HD)
Available on select cable systems Check local listings for channels
Verizon FiOS 78 MSG (SD)

The MSG Network, now shortened to simply MSG, is a regional cable television and radio network serving the Mid-Atlantic United States. It is focused on New York City sports teams. The network takes the name of Madison Square Garden, and has long been the producer of radio and television broadcasts of the NBA's New York Knicks, NHL's New York Rangers, and WNBA's New York Liberty, which play their home games at the Garden. MSG is also the home of MLS's New York Red Bulls who play at Red Bull Arena and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres; the Rangers do not air west of the Syracuse media market, while the Sabres do not air south of the Albany or Binghamton markets. In 2010, MSG Network began broadcasting exclusive content for the NFL's New York Giants.[1] MSG also has a sister station, MSG Plus, which is the primary home to the NHL's New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders (plus Sabres games for viewers outside Buffalo and Rochester when there is a conflict with the Knicks) as well as national FSN programming.

MSG was rebranded on October 5, 2006 with a new logo, new graphics and the removal of Network from promotion of the station's name. Since the relaunch, more entertainment-oriented programming has aired on the network. This programming includes concerts and professional boxing and wrestling cards that have taken place at Madison Square Garden or Radio City Music Hall (both operated by MSG Entertainment) in the past and continue to occur to this day.

MSG also holds the broadcast rights to the drawings for the daily "Pick 10" keno game from the New York Lottery. The actual drawings are not shown live, but a picture of the twenty balls that were drawn is displayed on screen at the top of the 11:00 hour.



What would become MSG debuted on October 15, 1969 with a game between the Rangers and the Minnesota North Stars. MSG Network, thus, became the first regional sports network in North America, and one of the first of its kind in the world.

The channel, which at the time was not even named, was carried by Manhattan Cable Television under a one-year, 125-event deal that was signed in May 1969. At the time, the cable company, which had televised Knickerbocker and Ranger post-season games the previous spring for a $25,000 rights fee, had only 13,000 subscribers.[2]

The Garden renewed the deal with the cable company, then called Sterling Manhattan Cable Television, in the fall of 1970 for five years at an estimated rights fee of $1m to $1.5m. Charles Dolan, who later headed MSG and Cablevision, was the president of the cable company at the time.[2]

In 1977, the network was sold to Gulf+Western along with its namesake sports arena; the company would rename itself to Paramount Communications (after sister companies Paramount Pictures and Paramount Television) in 1989.

Games from the Garden later appeared throughout the early days of Home Box Office. By 1978, the first mentions of the "temporarily named" Madison Square Garden Network appeared in print. [3]

By the mid-1980s, MSG was using both the full name "Madison Square Garden Network" and its new abbreviated form. By the early 1990s, the channel's name became MSG. In the mid-1990s, MSG used the slogan "The Best in the Game". In 1994, Paramount Communications was acquired by Viacom (itself a cable giant, having once owned various cable systems in the US and also owns MTV Networks), who in turn sold the MSG properties to Cablevision and ITT Corporation, which had 50% ownership each. ITT would sell its share to Cablevision three years later.

Baseball coverage 1989–2005

Between 1989 and 2001, the network was the cable home of the New York Yankees. MSG paid an average of $55 million a year for those rights, and the deal is widely credited as having started a national trend towards greater team coverage on regional sports networks, with more games being broadcast than over-the-air stations' regular programming schedules could usually permit. MSG also produced the Yankees radio broadcasts from 1994 to 2001, which aired on WABC. MSG also owned the over-the-air broadcast rights to Yankee games, which it sold to long-time broadcaster WPIX from 1989–1998 and WNYW from 1999-2001. In 2002, the Yankees left MSG to form the YES Network. From 2002 to 2005, MSG aired games from Major League Baseball's New York Mets on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, games which previously aired on FSNY (MSG, FSNY, and WPIX each carried about 50 games a season on consistent days of the week). Like the Yankee deals, MSG also owned the broadcast TV rights, placing games on WWOR-TV before moving to WPIX in 1999. After the 2005 baseball season, Mets games moved to SportsNet New York, a cable network partially owned by the Mets, although WPIX retained a reduced slate of games. Comcast and Time Warner, which generally control whatever NYC-area (and in Time Warner's case, most of upstate New York) cable systems Cablevision doesn't, are the other partners.

Upstate New York

MSG is available in most of Upstate New York. Rangers, Devils, and Islanders games are blacked out in the Sabres' primary broadcast territory, which are the Buffalo and Rochester Nielsen markets, but Knicks games are broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet or a temporary alternate channel when there is a conflict with the Sabres, except for Chautauqua County, part of which is within 100 miles (160 km) of Cleveland and gets only Cleveland Cavaliers games on Fox Sports Ohio as per NBA rules. The Knicks are also subject to blackout in eastern-most Connecticut, within 100 miles (160 km) of Boston. However, most of Erie (including Buffalo) and Niagara counties, a territory located within the 100-mile (160 km) radius of Toronto, do not have Knicks games blacked out in favor of the Toronto Raptors. This is most likely because the Raptors' exclusive territory ends at the U.S. border, although select games did air on Empire while that network operated and no CBC Sports programming is usually blacked out by U.S. cable operators offering a CBC station.

Most of upstate New York (notably Albany, Binghamton, and Syracuse) gets every Sabres game but also the Rangers, Islanders, or Devils under certain conditions. A maximum of 50 to 60 games per team can be broadcast outside the New York City DMA each season under current NHL rules; this also covers broadcasts in parts of the Hartford/New Haven and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre media markets. The exact number of games aired in outer markets varies each year, depending on how the NBA and NHL schedules come out. MSG's website lists what games are subject to blackout, and where, with each region designated as a "zone." Outside Buffalo and Rochester, Knicks games always air on MSG, while MSG Plus carries the Sabres, should both play at the same time.

The presence of Sabres games in the Utica and Albany market led to some controversy, because most non-Adelphia cable systems in that market had not carried Empire for several years, and the fan-base for the Sabres is widely thought to be smaller than that of the New York City-area teams (and even Boston-area teams, as WSBK served the region for several years before each upstate market got local affiliates of the now defunct UPN and WB networks).

Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have made deals so that both MSG Plus and SportsNet New York are available on analog basic in most upstate markets, although some only get MSG Plus through digital cable boxes.

Radio division

The radio division of MSG, known as the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Radio Network, produces Knicks and Rangers broadcasts for 1050 ESPN Radio and other stations across the region. Prior to the fall of 2004, MSG-produced Knicks and Rangers games aired on WFAN. The coordinating producer of MSG Radio is Frank Moretti.

All home Knicks games and selected Knicks away games have Spanish-language SAP that is a simulcast of its radio coverage on WADO. Red Bulls games have Spanish-language SAP that is a simulcast of its radio coverage on WADO or WQBU.

Alternate networks

Along with MSG and MSG Plus, MSG also operates MSG2 and MSG Plus 2 channels, mainly to assist in scheduling the many sporting events it carries.

Selected New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils games also air on MSG when both teams play at the same time, with one airing on sister-channel MSG Plus, which along with MSG and its alternate channels are officially referred to as MSG Media. In turn, selected Rangers games air on MSG Plus when the Knicks are on MSG and no live game is airing on MSG Plus at the same time. Any programming to which MSG owns the rights could air on either channel.

If more than two of the four local teams it carries are playing at the same time, MSG normally goes to the Knicks - the highest-rated property on the network - except when a late start time is involved, in which case the Rangers will air. In all other cases, the Rangers air on MSG2. Devils or Islanders games air on MSG Plus 2. If any teams are out of playoff contention, MSG will sometimes switch the order of priority among its teams.

In the cases of MSG2 and MSG Plus 2, the alternate channels vary. Many use the TV Guide Network, while satellite systems use an alternate channel. In some cases, these channels are not available outside the New York City area; however, they are offered by DirecTV, Dish Network, and Comcast. In order to help alleviate confusion, MSG directs viewers to a special website. While games on MSG and MSG Plus are broadcast in HD 1080i format, all games on MSG2 and MSG Plus 2 are broadcast in standard definition 480i format.

Buffalo Sabres

This situation has become even more complicated in recent years, as MSG also owns the rights to the Buffalo Sabres after the collapse of Empire Sports Network and its parent, Adelphia. The Sabres service is broadcast to Upstate New York customers (defined as virtually all of the state outside the New York City Nielsen DMA). The Sabres, through its broadcast arm, the Sabres Hockey Network, control the entire broadcast, including the sale of advertising and production of exclusive pre- and post-game show. Aside from Sabres games, MSG controls the broadcasts of all other local teams that it carries (with teams usually retaining the right to approve or reject MSG's choice of announcers). The two sides agreed to a 10-year contract in 2006.[3]

There has been a certain amount of controversy regarding the Nielsen ratings for the Sabres' broadcasts on MSG. Traditionally, Buffalo's hockey ratings are among the highest in the United States. Regular season Sabres games on Versus and NBC generally register 15-20 shares in the Buffalo market, and approach 30 in the playoffs. However, Sabres games on MSG registered only 6-10 shares, even in the playoffs during 2006-07. This led to speculation that an inaccurate reporting method was used; the issues were apparently resolved after the season. In upstate New York (see above), another alternate channel is created for the New York Knicks if they are not on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

Metro Networks

From the fall of 1998 until the spring of 2005, Cablevision chose not to open up an additional MSG2 channel, instead placing games on its MSG Metro Channels, which were only available in a limited coverage footprint. Sometimes, games were also placed onto Riverhead-based WLNY. During this era, when two of the teams that the MSG Networks covered played against each other, only one broadcast would usually be produced using one of the team's announcing teams (this was either due to MSG's TV contracts or a desire to show a different sporting event at the same time). With the discontinuation of Metro, and the loss of the New Jersey Nets from their winter lineup, the MSG Networks now produce two broadcasts when two of their teams are playing against each other. Since 2009, the network now has gone back to producing a single unified broadcast, though it will use two sets of commentators (particularly for Buffalo, where the Sabres' radio team is simply dubbed over the MSG broadcast when they play the Rangers, Islanders or Devils).

Collegiate programming

MSG and MSG Plus also broadcast MAAC basketball, NEC basketball, America East basketball, SEC football, Pac 10 football and basketball, Big 12 football and women's basketball, and ACC basketball. The latter three are part of national FOX Sports Net broadcast contracts, while the others are either produced by the conferences themselves or ESPN Plus. Additionally, MSG offers locally-produced games from Hofstra University and other colleges in the area.

MSG formerly carried Big East games, along with the coaches shows for Rutgers University and St. John's University. In July 2008, the Big East and SportsNet New York announced a multi-year deal which gave SNY exclusive regional rights to Big East coaches shows and ESPN Plus-produced games.[4] However, MSG will retain rights to a reduced schedule of Big East games, including any St. John's basketball games played at Madison Square Garden.

Original programming


MSG's flagship program, added in October 2006, was called MSG, NY. It was a daily sports and entertainment highlights show, shown numerous times during the day. Formerly the sports-focused MSG Sportsdesk, the show changed as part of MSG's 2006 rebranding to focus on anything taking place at MSG, although sports remains the primary focus. The show however, gave expanded coverage to the teams which the network carries. Other New York area teams were covered, but usually to a lesser extent. Along with coverage of Garden-related entertainment news, this was intended to keep the show out of direct competition with SportsNite on SportsNet New York. MSG, NY was taped in a street-level studio, with a window looking at Madison Square Garden across the street. The show did not originally air on Sundays and Mondays, probably because they were considered "low-viewership nights". However, the show was expanded to seven nights a week in 2008, as well as one hour, based on improved ratings over its Sportsdesk predecessor.[5] The studio is also used by Cablevision-owned Fuse. Due to the declining ratings, the show ceased production in January 2009. In its place, MSG usually offers team-specific post-game shows.


  • The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden, a look at the historic events that have gone on inside the famed arena - both sports and non-sports-related - debuted in October 2006.
  • MSG Originals, added in 2007, is a series of programs expanding on 50 Greatest Moments to further discuss the Garden's history. Topics include Mecca of Boxing and Spring of 1994.
  • MSG Vault, added in 2006, is a series that features classic Knicks and Rangers games (among other events held at MSG) that have not been seen by the public in decades. In some cases, MSG no longer has complete tapes of the games, and so the content often resembles that of a grab-bag. In launching MSG Vault, MSG indicated that it has over 90,000 tapes of Garden events in its archive. As noted, some tapes prior to the 1990s are incomplete (parts of events may have been taped over or erased). Hosted by Al Trautwig, "The Vault" remains one of MSG's most popular programs, with a cult-like following of viewers from all ages. Trautwig, along with a usual guest that pertains to the theme of the program, often describes the story about how the footage was found and other interesting info.[6]
  • WWE MSG Classics, added in 2006. Airs WWE Classic matches that have been held at Madison Square Garden, hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund.
  • TXT MSG, added in 2010. Classic sports highlights from MSG's library are reviewed in the style of Pop Up Video.


  • Inside the Knicks, added in 2005, is a weekly Knicks magazine show.
  • SummerBall, added in 2006, is a series that highlights the major summer basketball leagues in New York City, featuring Hoops in the Sun at Orchard Beach, Dyckman and the Uptowners Basketball League, and especially the EBC at Rucker Park, hosted by Michael Bivins.
  • The Mike D'Antoni Show, added in 2009, is a weekly showed hosted by New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni and announcer Mike Breen. They look at the recent ongoings of the team and the coach answers e-mails from viewers during the "D-Mail" segment.
  • Friday Night Knicks, special Friday night New York Knicks games.


  • Extended highlights from concerts held at MSG or other Cablevision-owned venues, along with other shows focused on New York musicians. These are frequently used as filler programming in blackout zones.
  • Movies, generally sports-related. In addition to some Hollywood blockbusters, MSG has acquired the rights to several NY sports-related fiction or non-fiction programs originally broadcast on ESPN. These are most commonly seen during the summer NHL and NBA offseason.


  • Giants Opening Drive Live, a preview show hosted by Harry Carson and Anita Marks.
  • Giants Game Day, a pregame show hosted by Bob Papa.
  • Giants Chronicles, a 30-minute taped program that offers an in-depth look at the career of a Giants legend, hosted by Papa.
  • Coach Coughlin Press Conference, a weekly press conference with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.


  • Inside the Rangers, added in 2006, is a weekly Rangers magazine show.
  • Islanders Illustrated was a monthly Islanders magazine show. Added in 2008, it was cancelled in 2009 when the magazine's run ended.
  • MSG Hockey Night Live (formerly Hockey Night New York Live), added in 2005 and renamed in 2007, is a week-in-review show for the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils, and Sabres on Saturday nights during the season. Al Trautwig is the primary host, with Ron Duguay, Mike Keenan, Stan Fischler, Dave Maloney, Ken Daneyko, and Butch Goring among the analysts.

High school sports

  • High School Weekly, one of MSG's longest-running shows, focuses on high school football and basketball from around the region, hosted by Mike Quick. Many NFL, NBA, and WNBA stars have appeared on the show during their high school days.
  • High School Game of the Week, broadcasts a weekly high school football, basketball, or lacrosse game on tape delay from various parts of the NYC metropolitan area; the games typically feature schools from the suburbs (where MSG's parent, Cablevision, tends to be the dominant cable provider), or private schools in NYC itself. Selected games air live, such as the annual PSAL basketball championship at MSG, and occasional holiday football or basketball rivalry games.
  • The LAX Report, added in 2006, is a local high school lacrosse show similar to High School Weekly, hosted by Mike Quick.

Horse racing

  • Nightly highlights of races held at NYRA tracks, plus a weekly magazine show. Selected Saturday afternoons feature live racing (normally graded stakes).

Online programming

MSG's website,, has offered exclusive podcast programming since 2006. These include:

  • This Week in Hockey, added in 2006, features guests from around the NHL and from MSG Networks, including Stan Fischler, Joe Micheletti, and a fantasy hockey perspective provided by the RinkRat.
  • Batt'r Up!, added in 2006, is a weekly baseball podcast hosted by Matt Loughlin and long-time baseball analyst Fran Healy, with guests from around Major League Baseball, and fantasy advice from The Knuckler. New York Post columnist and MSG baseball analyst Joel Sherman also contributes.
  • CenterCourt, added in 2006, is an all-basketball podcast hosted by Gus Johnson and featuring John Andariese and Walt "Clyde" Frazier. Gus recaps the latest in NBA news and offers fantasy advice, while Clyde answers fan emails in "Dishin and Swishin" and John tells basketball stories in "Tall Tales". David Dominik hosts the Three-Point Play segment and conducts the One-on-One interviews with some of the biggest names in the NBA.


Talk shows

  • Halls of Fame, hosted by Fran Healy, features interviews with famous players and coaches from a variety of sports.
  • The Game 365, hosted by Fran Healy, features profiles and interviews of players and coaches with the backdrop of following each episode's guest around for a day in his/her athletic environment.
  • Boomer and Carton in the Morning, a simulcast of the WFAN morning show.
  • The Dan Patrick Show, a simulcast of the Fox Sports Radio/The 101 midday show, airs in upstate New York when Rangers games are replayed on MSG in the New York metropolitan area.

On-air staff

  • Kenny Albert: Knicks alternate play-by-play announcer
  • Mike Breen: Knicks play-by-play announcer
  • Steve Cangialosi: Red Bulls play-by-play announcer; Devils studio host/backup play-by-play announcer
  • Tina Cervasio: Red Bulls sideline reporter and Knicks halftime host
  • Spero Dedes: Fill-in Knicks play-by-play announcer
  • Mike "Doc" Emrick: Devils play-by-play announcer
  • Boomer Esiason: Host of The Boomer Esiason Show
  • Stan Fischler: hockey analyst; MSG Hockey Night Live studio analyst
  • Walt "Clyde" Frazier: Knicks game color analyst
  • Anthony "Fooch" Fucilli: reporter (mostly football)
  • Danny Gare: Sabres alternate color analyst
  • John Giannone: Rangers rinkside reporter and fill-in play-by-play announcer; Inside the Rangers host
  • Jason Horowitz: Liberty play-by-play announcer
  • Rick Jeanneret: Sabres play-by-play announcer
  • Dave Jennings: football analyst
  • Mike Keenan: Rangers studio analyst[7]
  • Bill Pidto: Studio host for Rangers and Knicks road games[7]
  • Deb Placey: hockey studio host; Liberty home games sideline reporter
  • Dave Maloney: Rangers studio/color analyst
  • Shep Messing: Red Bulls color analyst
  • Joe Micheletti: Rangers color analyst
  • Mary Murphy: Liberty color analyst
  • Harry Neale: Sabres color analyst
  • Mean Gene Okerlund: Host of WWE Madison Square Garden Classics
  • Mike Quick: Host of High School Weekly and The LAX Report; high school sports reporter
  • Rob Ray: Sabres studio analyst and rinkside reporter
  • Glenn "Chico" Resch: Devils color analyst
  • Mike Robitaille: Sabres studio analyst
  • Malik Rose: Knicks halftime studio analyst
  • Sam Rosen: Rangers play-by-play announcer
  • Jon Rothstein: NBA and College Basketball Insider
  • Kevin Sylvester: Sabres studio host and alternate play-by-play announcer
  • Al Trautwig: Rangers and Knicks studio host; New York Hockey Night Live host, Inside the Knicks, MSG Vault, and MSG, NY
  • Kelly Tripucka: Knicks color/studio analyst

MSG Radio Network

  • Kenny Albert: Rangers primary play-by-play announcer
  • John Andariese: Knicks radio color analyst
  • Bill Daugherty: Knicks studio host
  • Mike Crispino: Knicks play-by-play announcer
  • Don LaGreca: Rangers studio host and Fill-in Rangers play-by-play announcer
  • Dave Maloney: Rangers color analyst
  • Bob Papa: Rangers secondary play-by-play announcer
  • Bob Wischusen: Fill-in Knicks and Rangers play-by-play announcer

Former on-air staff


Msg hd.png

MSG HD is a high definition simulcast of programs from MSG Network, including home games of the Knicks, Liberty, and NHL teams, plus most away games, as well as SEC football and UEFA Champions League soccer. Red Bulls home games and college football or basketball games produced by FSN may also sometimes be in HD. MSG HD can be seen on DirecTV, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and RCN. MSG HD is not yet available on Verizon FiOS TV, Dish Network, or AT&T U-verse TV.

Since January 22, 2009, the NHL and MSG have been involved in a contract dispute which has resulted in MSG HD and MSG+ HD broadcasts being pulled from NHL's GameCenter Live for viewers outside of the local markets for the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres.[8] The HD picture is replaced with stretched SD. As of March 17, 2010 beginning with the game between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, MSG HD and MSG+ HD has returned to NHL Center Ice as confirmed by Gary Bettman during the NHL Hour broadcast.[9]


On March 24, 2010, MSG 3D broadcast the game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders in 3D, available only to Cablevision subscribers on channel 1300.[10][11]

See also

  • MSG Varsity


External links

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