MSG Plus (known on air as MSG+) is a regional sports network in the New York City metropolitan area, whose reach expands to cover the entire state of New York, Northern New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, and Northeastern Pennsylvania. The network was rebranded on March 10, 2008.
Like its sister network, MSG, it is operated by Madison Square Garden, Inc. (which was spun off from Cablevision in 2009) under the banner of MSG Media. It was formerly known as FSN New York and Fox Sports Net New York as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks, and SportsChannel New York prior to that.
MSG+ is home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, and MLL’s Long Island Lizards.
MSG+ also serves an overflow purpose when multiple local teams that would be shown on MSG play at the same time, much like MSG does for MSG+. MSG’s teams which may also appear as MSG+ telecast are the NHL’s New York Rangers and MLS’s New York Red Bulls. In most of upstate New York, MSG+ carries a large portion of Buffalo Sabres games.
MSG is also the television home of the NBA’s New York Knicks, WNBA’s New York Liberty, and the Sabres. Although MSG has nine broadcasting zones, MSG+ has only eight. The one remaining zone is the Northwest Region of Pennsylvania, where MSG+ is not available, and all Buffalo Sabres games play on the main MSG channel. (Knicks games and other hockey games not involving the Sabres are blacked out in this region.) Until recently, Western New York also did not receive MSG+, and any conflict with the Sabres and Knicks (again, other hockey games are blacked out in this zone) was resolved by placing the Knicks on an overflow channel such as Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
SportsChannel New York
MSG+ was originally launched by Cablevision as Cablevision Sports 3 in 1976. It would later be renamed SportsChannel New York in September 1979. It was the first SportsChannel America network. In addition to the teams currently shown on MSG+, New York Yankees (MLB), New York Mets (MLB), and New Jersey Nets (NBA) games were shown on the network. In 1998, two years after Fox Sports Net launched in other markets, Cablevision partnered with News Corporation and Liberty Media to rebrand the network as Fox Sports New York (FSNY), with MSG also becoming a part of FSN. Eventually they would rebrand their other SportsChannel networks as well. Aside from MSG and MSG+, Cablevision eventually sold its stake of FSN networks other than FSN New York to News Corporation and Comcast.
The Yankees telecasts moved to the MSG Network in the 1989 MLB Season (Cablevision did not own the MSG Network at that time).
The last event on SportsChannel New York was the NBA basketball game between the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets from Denver, Colorado on January 27, 1998.
FSN New York
The first event on Fox Sports New York was the NBA basketball game on the following night between the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers in Inglewood, California. The last event on FSN New York was a college basketball game between the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers and the Robert Morris Colonials from Moon Township, Pennsylvania on March 9, 2008. Veteran graphics coordinator Dave Katz was in the production truck for both of these events.
Through the 2005 MLB Season, the Mets games were shown on FSN New York. Some games were moved to MSG in 2002 as a result of the Yankees and Nets launching their own network (YES Network). In 2006, the Mets started SportsNet New York to carry their games.
At 7:00 PM EST on March 10, 2008, FSN New York became MSG+. The first event on the rebranded network was the Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras exhibition tennis match at Madison Square Garden (the game was also available nationally on The Tennis Channel).
MSG2 and MSG+ 2
Like MSG’s MSG2, MSG+ also has MSG+ 2. These networks air only when three or four local games air on MSG and MSG+ combined and at the same time. The Knicks or the Rangers game airs on MSG2 and the Islanders or the Devils on MSG+ 2. Normally, the Knicks game airs on MSG2 only when they are on the road and start at least one hour later than the Rangers due to the fact that the Knicks is the Madison Square Garden and MSG’s highest-rated property. However, several Knicks home games originally scheduled to air on MSG were moved to MSG2 in 2008, in favor of Rangers playoff games.
On cable systems, these networks air mostly on the TV Guide Channel as the “over-the-air” telecast. On satellite systems, these networks will air on alternate channels assigned by the satellite television provider. When MSG2 and MSG+ 2 air both at the same time, one of them will air on the alternate channel, mostly, for cable, on C-SPAN2.
From the 1998-1999 NBA and NHL seasons to the 2004-2005 seasons, instead of these alternate channels, Cablevision placed games on their MSG Metro Channels, which were available in a limited number of homes, causing certain customers to miss the games. In high cases of overflow, partially caused by the New Jersey Nets being broadcast on the now-rebranded FSN New York at the same time, games were also placed on 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. Beginning in the 2005-2006 NBA and NHL seasons, when Metro was discontinued and Nets telecasts moved to YES, FSN New York (now MSG+) and MSG resumed airing FSN New York 2 (now MSG+ 2) and MSG2 and produce two broadcasts when two of their teams are playing against each other.
MSG+ also has a high-definition feed named MSG+ HD. In addition, MSG+2 is broadcast in HD depending on geographic location and television provider. All of the home games for New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and New York Red Bulls and most road games for these teams airing on MSG+ are HD-Available (Lizards games are currently not HD-Available). It is carried on Cablevision (except Cablevision of Litchfield), Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey, RCN, DirecTV, and Verizon Fios. Comcast has carried MSG+ HD full-time since October 15, 2009 for Northern and Central NJ systems within the NYC DMA.
On January 22, 2009, MSG HD and MSG+ HD hockey broadcasts were absent from NHL’s GameCenter Live because of a contract dispute between MSG and the NHL, but on March 17, 2010 beginning with the game between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, MSG HD and MSG+ HD returned to NHL Center Ice as confirmed by Gary Bettman during the NHL Hour broadcast.
On December 14, 2011 A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday denied Cablevision/MSG Holdings’ petition to review the FCC’s orders that Cablevision start making the HD feeds of its regionals sports net available to U-Verse and FiOS.
MSG+ uses a similar graphics package to MSG for their telecasts, but has unique animated elements. MSG+ displays a scoreboard ticker which, except during live sports broadcasts and The Final Score, operates full-time, even during commercials.
Even though the channel has been renamed, it still carries some Fox Sports Net programming, like FSN Final Score and The Best Damn Sports Show Period, and The Dan Patrick Show, similar to Comcast SportsNet affiliates where there is no local FSN (although New York does have a CSN affiliate in SportsNet New York).
Arena Football League coverage
FSN New York (now MSG+) aired some New York Dragons games as part of the AFL on FSN package.
MSG+ also airs college sports games (many produced by FSN) and local weekly college basketball reports for Hofstra University (MSG carries weekly college football or basketball reports for Rutgers University and St. John’s University). However, games involving teams in the Tri-State New York Area are generally blacked out outside this area. Time Warner Cable, among others, often acquires rights to the local games in order to put them on its own channels in certain markets. Nationally broadcast FSN games will air in all MSG+ zones, unless a local team is playing at the same time. In such a case, the college game will be shown as joined-in-progress basis, on MSG if there is no other live game scheduled, or not at all.
New York Rangers and New York Red Bulls on MSG+
New York Rangers and New York Red Bulls games are mainly aired on MSG, but they air on MSG+ when New York Knicks (for Rangers) or New York Liberty (for Red Bulls) air on MSG and there are no other local teams that air mainly on MSG+ at the same time. The Knicks and Liberty have higher ratings for MSG than the Rangers and Red Bulls, respectively, thus they rarely air on MSG+.
The same goes for MSG, that either the New York Islanders or New Jersey Devils, teams that mainly air on MSG+, air on MSG when these teams play at the same time and when no other local teams that mainly air on MSG are playing at that time.
Since the start of 2006-2007 NBA and NHL seasons, there are strategy changes. Some Rangers telecasts air on MSG+ even when there is a conflict with Islanders and/or Devils, resulting these telecasts to be moved to MSG2 and/or MSG+ 2. Also, when the Knicks are out of the playoff contention and the Rangers are in the playoff contention or vice versa, the Rangers telecast usually air on MSG and the Knicks telecast on MSG2, or vice versa.
MSG+ received Promax Awards in 2009 for their Branding/Imaging Launch, High School Campaign, and Devils and Islanders Tuners
MSG+ in Upstate New York
The Hoosick area was formerly the only market on Time Warner Cable of Albany (within New York) that did not carry the now-rebranded FSN New York. The Hoosick area was also formerly provided by Adelphia’s system in Bennington, Vermont (now part of Comcast). It formerly carried FSN New England (now CSN New England), but because of FSN’s rule, it was replaced by FSN New York.
Central New York
Time Warner Cable of Central New York formerly carried the now-rebranded FSN New York only on the digital standard package, but it is now also carried on the standard cable package after the deal with Cablevision/Rainbow Media to place it on the standard cable package in most areas in the region. This was largely to accommodate Buffalo Sabres fans.