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New York Islanders Fans Deserve a Better Broadcast Deal

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EAST MEADOW, NY - AUGUST 29: New York Islanders owner Jon Ledecky addresses the guests during the New York Islanders memorial service for Al Arbour on August 29, 2016 in East Meadow, New York. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
EAST MEADOW, NY - AUGUST 29: New York Islanders owner Jon Ledecky addresses the guests during the New York Islanders memorial service for Al Arbour on August 29, 2016 in East Meadow, New York. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders continue to play second fiddle to the New York Rangers in New York’s spotlight, and in no place is this more obvious than their broadcast agreement.

Preseason games have not been broadcast locally, leaving New York Islanders fans scrambling to Reddit to find game streams that don’t lead to Russian hackers, suspect .exe downloads, or possibly worse yet, 47 popups.

This is getting ridiculous.

The Problem

If you weren’t sure how ridiculous it was, you sure did Saturday night after finally getting some televised preseason action and having to listen to Joe Micheletti and Sam Rosen confuse Scott Mayfield with Ross Johnston and speak glowingly about every young Rangers player who made it through a shift without falling on their face.

Not only are the games an issue, but so is the content. For the broadcast block prior to the puck drop tonight there was a special with Rangers coach David Quinn and blueline legend Brian Leetch laughing and smiling at each other for 30 minutes.

This is Rangers content, and MSG network is infested with it.

Break the Contract

If the Islanders ownership is serious about being seen as a real franchise again then they need to break their deal with MSG – the very same MSG that stands for Madison Square Garden, the home of their team’s most bitter, anger-inducing, reviled rival.

Sure, breaking that deal will cost money, but remember that the Isles had a contract with Barclays for 25 years, and that ended just a few years into it. There are ways out of everything if you’re willing to spend the money. It’s the American way.

The Solution

For me, the best option is YES network. As a marketer, I can’t tell you how easily it would be to sell that to fans. The Isles’ chant is quite literally “YES! YES! YES!”.

Outside of the obvious wordplay, the YES network was just reacquired by the New York Yankees in August, and they don’t have a hockey team on their broadcast roster. With the Yankees, NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, MLS’ New York City Football Club and WNBA’s New York Liberty they have a void in representation from one of the NY metro area’s hockey teams.

The Yankees season will end sometime in October/November. The MLS season ends in November. The WNBA season ends in October. After that content ends the YES network is left with only months of the Brooklyn Nets, who won’t even have Kevin Durant this year.

Others will point to SNY, home to the New York Mets, but YES just feels like a step above, notably with a partner like Amazon that joined with Sinclair Broadcast Group in the August deal, and the best bet for the New York Islanders to gain some real broadcast clout.

The Isles’ new ownership group has shown they can and will spend money – signing Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello, re-signing their core group of skaters (including throwing a big offer at Artemi Panarin) and building a new state-of-the-art arena – so it seems an investment in their franchise’s broadcast rights is well within the scope of justifiable spend.

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I don’t know the cost to break their contract with Cablevision and MSG – and I’m sure it’s hefty – but if you want Isles fans to be able to watch your preseason games and watch endless content of Barry Trotz and Denis Potvin talking shop, this is the cost of doing business.

Will this happen? I don’t know. But should this happen? Yes. Yes. Yes.

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