MSG Western New York
|MSG Western New York|
|Launched||September 10, 2016|
Sabres Hockey Network
Pegula Sports and Entertainment
|Slogan||United We Watch|
Western New York|
Niagara Peninsula, Central New York (select programming)
New York City|
Buffalo, New York
MSG Zone 3 or MSG Sabres (2006-2016)|
(as a game only channel)
(Western New York only)
|Sister channel(s)||MSG Network. MSG Plus, MSG 2, MSG Plus 2, MSG Varsity,|
|Bell TV||442 (as Sabres TV)|
|Time Warner Cable (Buffalo)||48|
|Time Warner Cable (Rochester)||51|
|Verizon Fios (Western New York)||
77 or 80 (SD)|
|Available on Western New York cable systems||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
|Frontier Vantage (Rochester)||TBD|
MSG Western New York (MSG WNY) is an American regional sports network that is a joint venture between MSG Networks and Pegula Sports and Entertainment. Announced on June 20, 2016, MSG WNY is a sub-feed of MSG Network with programming oriented towards the Western New York region, including coverage of the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres and the National Football League's Buffalo Bills, and replaced MSG Network on television providers in the Sabres' media market. The feed launched on September 10, 2016 with the special presentation Rex & Rob Reunited, with the daily feed that followed on October 3.
Although it was speculated that Pegula, which owns most of the major sports teams in the region, was considering the possibility of building its own regional sports network from scratch, the company elected to expand upon its existing relationship with MSG instead. The arrangement allows Pegula access to MSG's existing distribution and statewide programming, while allowing opt-outs for an expanded slate of local programming dedicated to the Bills and Sabres, which is produced and controlled by Pegula. The contract with MSG is valued at around $20 million per-year, nearly double the value of the previous contract that began in 2006.
MSG Western New York is available on cable providers throughout Western New York. Select programming is available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV, with Sabres games requiring an NHL Center Ice subscription for out of market viewers, and in Canada's Niagara Peninsula on a special channel set up for Bell TV subscribers that was founded in 2013.
After the collapse of Empire Sports Network and its parent Adelphia, MSG bought the rights to the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 under a 10-year deal; where telecasts are controlled by the team via the Sabres Hockey Network, including the sale of advertising, and the simulcast of Rick Jeanneret's commentary on both radio and television (although, during the 2015-16 season, the team experimented with having separate commentary teams on radio and television for selected games, which the Buffalo News speculated was in preparation for Jeanneret's eventual retirement), conditions that the Sabres always make as part of their telecast deals going back to the days of Empire. After acquiring the rights, MSG divided its network into three regional broadcast "zones"; Sabres games were avaliable within "Zone 3", which covered Buffalo and Rochester, and "Zone 2", the remainder of the state excluding Buffalo, Rochester, and New York City—which was shared by the Sabres, Devils, Islanders, and Rangers. The exact channel assignment for Sabres games varied by region (some games were carried by FSN New York in Zone 2), but all games were carried on the main MSG Network service within Zone 3.
The Buffalo Sabres' regional television ratings are among the highest in the league; in the 2015-16 season, despite the team's poor overall performance, fan enthusiasm over star prospect Jack Eichel helped the team achieve the highest average regional viewership of all NHL teams for the first time since 2008-09, with a 6.55 share. National telecasts on NBC and NBCSN have also had notably high ratings in Buffalo.
It was speculated that Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which had recently bought the Sabres, Rochester Americans, Buffalo Bandits and Buffalo Bills, was planning to take advantage of the high viewership by establishing a team-owned regional sports network once the Sabres' existing television contract with MSG expired. The Buffalo News's Alan Pergament also acknowledged the impending end of the Sabres and Bills' radio contracts with WGR as a possibility that the group could, potentially, acquire a radio station to serve as a team-owned radio outlet if it is unable to renew its contract with Entercom (Entercom had purchased the Sabres' previous owned-and-operated station, 107.7 WNSA, in 2004, and merged its remaining programming onto WGR). Pegula eventually secured a contract extension with Entercom keeping the Bills and Sabres on WGR through the spring of 2021. However, in regards to television, he felt that it was more likely for Pegula to partner with MSG to form a full-time, Buffalo-specific feed of MSG Network with additional local programming, rather than actually establishing a new, standalone outlet.
On June 20, 2016, Pegula announced that it had entered into a joint venture with MSG to establish a new service known as MSG Western New York. The channel, a sub-feed of MSG Network took over the former MSG Zone 3/Sabres game only channel, replacing the parent channel within the Sabres existing television market—which was also, notably, expanded to include the entirety of Rochester. MSG as part of the agreement pays $19 to $20 million per-year in rights fees to broadcast Sabres games and programming, as well as Buffalo Bills programming; it is nearly double the value of the previous Sabres deal. As with the previous deal, Pegula controls team programming on the network, including advertising sales and production, and receives all advertising revenue. Besides original programming and broadcasts exclusive to MSG WNY, the network also carries selected programming from the main MSG Network channel.
Pegula's executive vice president of media and content Mark Preisler explained that the deal was an alternative to establishing a new regional sports network from scratch, as the company would be able to expand on its relationship with MSG as a long-standing partner by leveraging its infrastructure and distribution, rather than needing to invest in building a network and negotiating carriage with television providers.
The first promos seen for the channel ran during a Bills preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on August 13, 2016 promoting it's Bills programming. The channel debuted on September 10, 2016 at 8:00pm with a Western New York cut in showing the 2016 debut of The Rex Ryan Show and a special behind the scenes feature called Rex and Rob Reunited at 8:30 and 9pm.
On launch, the network carries team programming related to the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills; the latter includes local Bills shows formerly aired by WKBW-TV; preseason telecasts will be simulcast with WKBW beginning in 2017. In addition, the channel simulcasts The Instigators (formerly known as Sabres Hockey Hotline) and The John Murphy Show from WGR radio as part of a five-hour weekday block, originating from studios at New Era Field; Murphy's program was moved from the evening to the afternoon and had a co-host added. As an aspect of the overall deal, PSE agreed in principle to extend its radio rights with WGR. Other programs will be added as the channel expands. The remainder of MSG WNY's schedule consists of programming from the main MSG Network schedule, such as New York Knicks basketball. In turn, MSG also has rights to air the Pegula-produced original programming on its other networks.
- Beyond Blue & Gold — a periodical Sabres magazine show that debuted in 2013
- The Instigators — daily talk show co-hosted by Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet with regular contributor Martin Biron; simulcast on WGR (formerly known as Sabres Hockey Hotline)
- The Rex Ryan Show — weekly coach's show hosted by John Murphy and Rex Ryan
- Bills All-Access — weekly half-hour newsmagazine
- Bills Tonight — weekly postgame show
- The John Murphy Show — daily talk show co-hosted by Murphy and Donald Jones; simulcast on WGR
- Chris Brown — contributor to Bills All Access
- Ruben Brown — analyst for Bills Tonight
- Mike Catalana — sideline reporter and host of Bills Tonight
- Andrew Catalon — play-by-play
- Donald Jones — co-host of The John Murphy Show
- John Murphy — host of The John Murphy Show
- Steve Tasker — host of Bills All Access and color commentator
- Martin Biron – contributor
- Brian Duff – Sabres studio host
- Dan Dunleavy – Sabres primary play-by-play announcer
- Danny Gare – Sabres fill-in analyst
- Rick Jeanneret – Sabres senior play-by-play announcer
- Brad May – Sabres studio host
- Rob Ray – Sabres color analyst
- Andrew Peters – co-host of The Instigators
- Craig Rivet – co-host of The Instigators
Both of the two primary cable providers in Western New York, Charter Communications (formerly Time Warner Cable, which covers the vast majority of the state) and Atlantic Broadband (which covers a small portion of Cattaraugus County) have carried the network from its inception.
On August 10, 2016 the debut night of MSG Western New York it was revealed that DirecTV would not be running its programming debut on the MSG alternate channel used for the former MSG Zone 3/Sabres where Sabres games are seen and MSG WNY would otherwise be seen forcing Western New York viewers with DirecTV had to wait see the debut programming until it ran nationally on the main MSG channel two hours later. DirecTV also happens to be the service that Pegula owned properties like 716 Food and Sport, a sports bar and grill in downtown Buffalo use. The Sabres have noted that MSG has made the programming available to DirecTV but the provider is not willing to carry it.
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