Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks' spiralling Linsanity have increased the stakes in a TV war raging between Time Warner Cable and the MSG and MSG+ cable networks.
The Web site keepmsg.com -- which is run by MSG Media, owner of the MSG channels -- has issued an ad, which was running at the top of the extremely popular DrudgeReport.com Wednesday evening, that shows a photo of Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin going up for a lay-up next to this message: Click here to get back your Knicks.
MSG+ and MSG -- which air programming including New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty games (and Buffalo Sabres games in upstate New York) -- were dropped from the Time Warner Cable channel lineup at the start of 2012. The blackout came as a result of a failure by the two parties to negotiate a deal that would allow the channels to continue to be run on Time Warner.
The situation, which has sent many Knicks fans to friends' houses and bars that have other cable hook-ups, has caused considerable heartache for long-time Knicks fans who have been itching to see Jeremy Lin and the Linsanity for themselves.
MSG is hoping that it can play off the Lin hype, and get customers of Time Warner to switch to another cable provider, giving MSG leverage in its negotiations with Time Warner, and earning MSG and MSG+ more viewers on the other providers in the process.
Keepmsg.com includes a statement that explains the position of the MSG networks:
Despite MSG Media's attempts to engage Time Warner Cable in good faith negotiations for nearly two years, no agreement is expected to be reached for Time Warner Cable to continue to carry MSG Network and MSG Plus, reads the statement.
We are disappointed that MSG and MSG Plus will be dropped from Time Warner Cable's lineup, Michael Bair, president of MSG Media, said in the statement, which was issued Dec. 31. All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers -- nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years. In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers.
Time Warner Cable, of course, tells a different version, and the two companies have taken to ads such as the one that ran Wednesday evening on the Drudge Report to tell their sides of the dispute.
Unfortunately, MSG is still demanding a 53% increase; our hope is that they will go back to their pre-December demand for a 6.5% increase, and then we can close a reasonable deal.
Even New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is getting in on the action, pressuring MSG and Time Warner to find a way to reconcile their differences:
We have had constructive discussions with Time Warner Cable and MSG networks as part of an ongoing effort to facilitate progress in their talks, Michelle Duffy, Schneiderman's press officer, told The Buffalo News on Jan. 6.
Looks like those discussions are still in progress, and DrudgeReport.com's millions of daily visitors are the latest pawns in the negotiations (or lack thereof.)