Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Rangers v. the NHL

Still, it is hard to imagine Dolan getting much support from his peers, even the more well-heeled ones such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers, organizations that could probably do better in stand-alone marketing initiatives, as opposed to pooling everything under the NHL umbrella.

Multiple sources indicated that support for Dolan's position was no better than lukewarm — even among organizations that might be considered potential allies — and that the vast majority of teams backed the NHL's attempts at bringing all their new media enterprises under one roof.
This is an intriguing, and complicated, story, one that's been simmering in backrooms for months now, and that pits one of the NHL's premier franchises against the league itself. The Rangers are incredibly important to the NHL: The second-highest revenue-generating club and the highest among U.S.-based teams, an Original Six team with a rabid fan base that draws incredibly well, at home and on the road.

And while Duhatschek is likely right in that they are a lone wolf in challenging Gary Bettman and company's plans for web conglomeration, a process Madison Square Garden sees as 'cookie-cuttering' teams' websites, the Rangers are a mighty powerful entity all by their lonesome.

The NHL board of governors' real power base, however, has never been about New York, and it's owners like Jeremy Jacobs and Ed Snider, as well as New Jersey team president Lou Lamoriello, who back Bettman and, generally, what they say goes in hockey circles. And, at the moment, the Bruins', Flyers' and Devils' websites look pretty, well, cookie-cutterish. (As Eric McErlain points out, the Rangers now have two different websites.)

Not that this is just about the web. MSG overlord Jim Dolan reportedly outlined a number of revenue-related grievances when it came to the league in a letter to other NHL governors, something Bettman would have been made well aware of.

The Rangers are a big fish that already conceded on a number of fronts during the lockout (revenue sharing being the foremost) and generate a lot of mostly unshared revenue from a huge cable television deal that simply doesn't exist in any other U.S. market.

And while that isn't in jeopardy here, MSG's charges of antitrust violations remind me of the pact NFL clubs made in the 1960s to pool television revenues for the good of the league, a move that violated antitrust laws at the time. In came the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which eliminated legal restrictions and opened the doors for the mass pooling of billions of dollars we now see in that league.

Right now, the NHL can't give away it's combined television rights, but the web is a whole new frontier — albeit one without quite as promising revenue potential. MSG has invested millions in its original site and says such a takeover violates antitrust laws, but when that went down with television more than 40 years ago, they simply changed the law.

Another interesting aside: MSG also owns the New York Knicks, whose site is under league control along with every other NBA franchise.

I'm not sure what the difference is — or if they've been through this fight before.



At 9:24 AM, October 02, 2007, Blogger some guy said...

I'm going to guess that there's got to be some kind of Comcast vs. Cablevision thing here too. Sure they're both regional cable providers in a tiny corner of the continent, but ever since Comcast invented Versus to swipe the NHL broadcast rights in the US, I'd wager there's some hurt feelings. And since we're talking about a family business, feelings matter.

Maybe the Dolan's see the NHL/Comcast coziness as being bad for business (especially with Compcast being a huge internet provider, and the league getting more internet friendly). The suit with the NHL could be no more than a business person getting cautious about the rise of a rival

At 12:18 PM, October 02, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) The 'Rise of a Rival"? have you seen the ratings for versus lately? LOL

At 2:01 PM, October 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comcast? Aren't they too busy annoying everyone in the State of Michigan about their refusal to put the Big Ten Network on their system? That's all I hear on the sports radio stations in Detroit, the satellite companies hyping the Big 10 Network and shooting down Comcast and Vice Versa.
How come all they show on the OLN in Canada is hours and hours and hours of border collies playing flyball?

At 4:21 PM, October 02, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Cable companies almost never directly compete against each other.

What's good for Comcast is good for Cablevision.

At 5:19 PM, October 02, 2007, Blogger odessasteps said...

You'd think Dolan would be too worried about the Isiah Thomas lawsuit (and now appeal) to worry about the NHL.

At 2:47 AM, October 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really wrote all this with a straight face or on you on James Dolan's payroll like so many in the media?

Let's get the facts straight.

Rangers are invisible and a complete afterthought in the New York market who's second round playoff games lost out to Nascar in Manhttan by thirty eight percent and lost the ratings game by a 2-1 ratio over Buffalo.

The New Jersey Nets doubled up their playoff rating in New York, they could fold tomorrow and no one would notice.

Ranger lost the most money going into the lockout at 40.9m and for their 80m spent on payroll only generated 85 million in total reveune which checks them in at seventh among NHL teams.

Cablevision spent this sport into a lockout and wrote off the losses that's not a team making profits like Toronto.
Msg is usually half empty for games unless opposing fans show up and purchase the seats. Television ratings last season dwindled to only 36,000 homes for Msg televised games in the regular season.

The league has rules and Dolan should understand how a monopoly works and live by them or give up his teams. The concept of James Dolan talking about illegal business practices as he defends his Knicks and Rangers in lawsuits for illegal activities is comical.

Of course Ranger supporters will defend anything that protects the sweater. Even the unthinkable such as defend a disgrace like James Dolan's New York Rangers.

At 5:12 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Hey anonymous, first off the Rangers sold out MSG every game last year, the Knicks didn't.

More importantly, Cablevision still isn't offering the Center Ice package. Are the Rangers/MSG/Cablevision playing hardball? Whatever the case, this is fucking bullshit, I won't be able to watch the Leafs tonight.

Everything about NYC sucks.


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