MSG+ launches this summer to stream games for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and more
MSG Networks is launching a streaming service for fans to watch the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, the company announced Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- MSG+ will launch this summer and be available to fans living in regions where MSG’s channels are available on cable TV.
- In addition, MSG+ will be free to anyone who is already a paying subscriber to a TV service that carries the MSG Network, the company said.
- The streaming service includes several subscription options: monthly ($29.99), yearly ($309.99), or single-game purchases ($9.99).
- An MSG+ subscription also includes MSG Network, MSG SportsNet and other live events and programming on the channels.
The launch of MSG+ continues the gradual rollout of direct-to-consumer viewing options for fans across the country as regional sports networks look for new revenue drivers as cord-cutting hits the traditional sports television model. NESN, in Boston, debuted last year at $29.99 a month (or $329.99 a year), allowing fans to stream Bruins and Red Sox games while avoiding the cable package.
Bally’s Sports launched its own streaming service in September, with the RSNs it owns across the country. Bally Sports+ is $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year.
MSG has had its own particular problems reaching fans in New York due to a long-standing impasse with Comcast, which has kept the MSG Network off its cable package since October 2021.
MSG Network experienced a further decline in subscriptions last quarter.
Andrea Greenberg, CEO of MSG Networks, addressed its direct-to-consumer option in February on an earnings call regarding its linear television business.
“We remain very, very mindful of our traditional linear business, and the important partnerships, including the value we derive from those very important partnerships,” Greenberg said. “We have indicated that we will have more to say about the product, including the price of the product in the near future. That said, we believe there is still value in the package. And our D2C offering, including our pricing for that offering, will We certainly take that into consideration.” — Vorkunov
The direct-to-consumer streaming era is here
The era of direct-to-consumer streaming is upon us, and what’s particularly interesting here is MSG+ selling individual games for $10 each, which Sportico said was a first for regional networks. Price points for games and season-long packages to be distributed locally is a big issue going forward, especially as the RSN business craters.
Diehard fans will pay anything for access to local teams, but these businesses will need casual sports fans for any kind of growth. The advertised figure of $30 per month for access to all MSG produced games seems more expensive to me, but the consumer will decide. — Dietsch
Are the subscription prices too high?
The MSG+ price point reflects the cost dynamics that are difficult to triangulate for RSNs as they roll out their own streaming networks. The money RSNs make from the cable bundle is still their biggest revenue driver, and the streaming network is not trying to replace it, but instead trying to acquire the viewers they know will no longer subscribe.
Many fans will balk at the price, which is more than they’re being asked to pay for ESPN+, HBO Max or Netflix, and is notably different from the way these streamers market, by offering their apps at low subscription costs and then gradually increasing them . How many will eventually subscribe remains to be seen, but networks and teams across the country will continue to try something like this. The Clippers rolled out ClipperVision before the start of this NBA season, offering Clippers games outside of a cable subscription for $199 for the season. — Vorkunov
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)