On Friday, executives at Madison Square Garden Entertainment fielded questions from analysts following the release of its fiscal 2022 earnings report. While much of the conversation revolved around the company’s live events business, the new state-of-the-art Sphere in Las Vegas and the possible spin-off of the various divisions of MSG Entertainment, there were a few nuggets in the mix over the previously announced one. direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming service on the market.
Although the company’s original plan for the platform was to launch before the end of 2022, MSG Network President and CEO Andrea Greenberg said on the call that the plan was now to launch the DTC transmitter “during the second half of the NBA 2022-23 and NHL seasons.”
Greenberg also revealed that the service is currently being developed, but MSG wants to take its time during the build phase to ensure that the product it eventually launches meets consumer expectations and can compete in the increasingly fragmented sports broadcast. . space.
“The design and construction of our DTC product have been launched,” he said. “So we’re in the process of building, and we’re making good progress. But we really want to make sure we take adequate time to launch an exceptional product, one that meets our internal expectations and the expectations of our potential DTC customers. So it’s really about doing the right build and release.”
While established subscription streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services have become more involved in sports rights auctions this year, we have also seen a growing number of regional sports networks (RSNs) also launching their own services. In June, Sinclair’s Diamond Media Group launched the long-awaited Bally Sports+ service in five markets tied to Major League Baseball teams for which the company has already secured broadcast rights.
Earlier this week, Sinclair announced that he would release the full version of the app on September 26 in time for the NHL and NBA preseasons. While the company did not disclose how many customers had signed up for the service during the preliminary launch, executives reported that 74% of consumers who signed up for the free trial stayed with the streamer once their subscriptions switched to paid plans.
When Bally Sports+ launches widely this fall, it will add availability to markets for the 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams for which Sinclair has broadcast rights. To date, however, Sinclair executives have been unable to announce any new MLB clubs that would agree to grant broadcast rights to the company, casting doubt on the long-term sustainability of the platform.
In addition to tracking how Sinclair has launched Bally Sports+, the company is also likely to be keeping an eye on how the Boston-based NESN network has launched its NESN+ streamer into the market with a similar structure. NESN owns the streaming and streaming rights to Boston Red Sox and Bruins games and their streamer is available throughout the New England area.
While MSG Networks’ streaming service will focus only on New York Knicks, New York Giants, and New York Rangers games, as well as other New York-centric sports content, blocking broadcast rights is one part comprehensive of MSG plans in the run-up. throw.
“We’re certainly looking at what others are doing in the space, not just for best practices, and taking those into account,” Greenberg said. “We have recently renewed our digital rights agreement with the NHL for several years, and we are confident that we will soon renew our agreement with the NBA as we have done many times in the past in the ordinary course. so everything [is] on the right track, it’s really just the result of wanting to get the right product.”
Although it seems that New York sports fans will have to wait a little longer to be able to stream some of their favorite teams’ games without the benefit of a traditional cable or satellite subscription, it appears that MSG Networks is working to offer a product mid-season broadcast quality for the Knicks and Rangers.