Gotham was jubilant Friday as Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks made up — even if they didn’t kiss — and prepared to pipe the Knicks and superstar Jeremy Lin back into the homes of several million New Yorkers.
“Hallelujah. I’m very happy. As a longtime Knicks fan, it’s terrible when you come home and want to watch a game and you can’t. I wrote letter to the governor this morning,” New York attorney Norman Siegel told Variety. He shifted a dinner engagement up two hours to see the Knicks take on the New Orleans Hornets at 8 pm.
Time Warner Cable confirmed “a verbal agreement” for carriage of MSG channels effective immediately and “expressed appreciation for the concern and encouragement provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NBA Commissioner David Stern.”
Government officials, who were key in shoving the two sides to the table, were more eloquent.
“Now, a million more New Yorkers will be able to go Linsane in the privacy of their own living room. I’m looking forward to watching the return of Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks and Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
MSG is also home to the NHL’s Devils, Islanders and Sabres. But it’s the Knicks who had the city fuming as point guard Lin became a national phenomenon amidst pent up demand for basketball after the season was delayed by a lockout until the end of December.
“I applaud both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Britt and their companies. I thank them for being responsive to the needs of New Yorkers,” said Governor Cuomo, referring to Madison Square Garden’s executive chairman Charles Dolan and Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt.
“The implication is that every once and a while these companies need to go to government,” Siegel said, so they decided to hold their noses and shake hands.
The two were fighting over how much the cable operator would pay MSG for rights to air games after a contract expiration on Dec. 31. Time Warner refused to pay the 54% rate hike it said MSG requested. MSG called that figure “a gross distortion” but never disclosed a number.
All games were pulled starting that night. As the frenzy grew, Time Warner Cable was reduced to sponsoring contests to fly local Knicks fans to games and hosting viewing parties in apartment complexes.