As Cablevision is racked by a bitter family boardroom squabble, the company has gone to war with Time Warner Cable over the renewal of MSG Network, Fox Sports New York and the Metro Channel for 2.4 million TWC subscribers in Gotham and its environs.
Although Time Warner Cable put forward an 11th-hour proposal to Cablevision that would have extended the deadline beyond midnight Monday, TW had received no response by mid-evening Monday.
Time Warner said that the increases Cablevision is demanding for MSG, FSNY and nonsports net the Metro Channel, were not justified, for one big reason: The New York Yankees and the New Jersey Nets have defected to the competing YES Network, and the New York Mets will pull their games from MSG and FSNY after the current season.
Cablevision was unwilling to entertain Time Warner’s overture to engineer a new late-October deadline so that TW’s subscribers could watch the games of the New York Mets this season without any interruption. If Cablevision agreed to that extension, and both sides still hadn’t reached an agreement by the end of the baseball season, TW would be under less pressure to settle.
Late Monday, TW Cable executives were preparing to remove MSG, FSNY and Metro, claiming that Cablevision was forcing its hand by sending a formal letter threatening a copyright-infringement lawsuit if Time Warner continued carrying the networks beyond midnight.
TW will replace the sports networks with NBA TV and College Sports TV. Both of the replacements now run on a digital sports tier on TW, which will upgrade them to analog. TW also said it will reimburse its subscribers with a $2-a-month credit until the two sides can work out a deal that will bring MSG and FSNY back to Time Warner’s cable systems.
Cablevision will eventually want to get MSG and FSNY back on TW, not only to harvest the license fees but to get back the ad revenues being lost because of the disappearance of 2.4 million potential viewers.