One of the big discussions around standalone over-the-top offerings for streaming cable sports networks is about price point. Bally Sports+ comes in at $20 a month (after previous discussions of $23 a month), while NESN is $30 a month; those are the only two full OTT RSN offerings at the moment, but many others are in the works. The latest one to unveil pricing details is MSG+, set to launch this summer. It will have a monthly option for $30, an annual option for $310, and, most notably, individual games (for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, and Sabres) for $10 each. (It will also be available for free via authentication from those who already get the network through a cable/satellite/vMVPD bundle.) Here’s more from a release:
MSG+ is being developed as a state-of-the-art streaming platform to provide fans in the region with the ability to access MSG Networks’ exclusive coverage of their favorite teams wherever they are and on their favorite devices ranging from mobile and tablet to connected TVs and other large screen applications. Fans who do not subscribe to a traditional, bundled pay television service may subscribe to MSG+ on a direct-to-consumer basis by purchasing monthly ($29.99) and annual ($309.99) subscriptions, which will include MSG Network and MSG SportsNet and all MSG-produced Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, and Sabres games as well as other live sports, events and programming included on the networks in their area.
Additionally, fans will be able to purchase single games of their favorite local teams ($9.99 per game), an innovative offering not made available by any other regional sports network. MSG+ will be available at no additional charge to subscribers of participating pay television service providers of MSG Networks, replacing MSG GO as the company’s authenticated streaming service. New features including live betting odds, personalized offers and wider availability on devices will continue to add value for these bundled consumers. Additional details will be released prior to the launch this summer. In the meantime, interested fans are encouraged to visit MSG Networks’ new website – www.msgplus.tv – to register to receive updates and more information.
On the “innovative offering not made available by any other regional sports network” claim around single-game purchases, that is technically correct (“the best kind of correct“). Perhaps the closest we’ve seen to this was from NBC Sports Northwest (RIP), which offered an OTT “BlazersPass” service for Portland Trail Blazers games in 2017 and 2018, offering 15 games each year for $35. And while that’s a better value per game, it’s not a single-game option. But there have been notable out-of-market single-game options, including the NBA League Pass $6.99 per game option. It is a jump to see that as an offering from an in-market RSN, but it’s not an entirely new offering overall.
Overall, this is certainly a notable move from MSG. And it comes amidst a lot of uncertainty for RSNs in general, with the WBD (“ATT SportsNet”) ones facing a quick demise or transfer and the Sinclair (“Bally Sports”) ones going through their own bankruptcy restructuring. It also comes amidst a wider pivot to sports networks also providing over-the-top options, and follows Bally and NESN there. And there has been lots of talk from other RSNs (including the NBC ones, which may have some Peacock offering at some point) about this idea. And there’s lots of OTT sports content in general on services like ESPN+, Peacock, Paramount+, Apple TV+, and even HBO Max these days, and even some team offerings like the Clippers’ season-pass-only “ClipperVision.” But it’s definitely significant to see another RSN make this move.
One further thing that should be noted here is what MSG has in mind with their recently-launched FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) channel MSG SportsZone. Here’s more on that from their release:
MSG SportsZone was recently launched nationally as a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel which features a mix of original programming from MSG Networks’ content library. MSG SportsZone is currently available on Vizio and Plex with additional FAST platforms expected to come soon. A national audience will now be able to sample MSG Networks’ sports betting, classic and other original programming.
“MSG Networks is delighted to be able to offer fans more ways to watch our compelling and award-winning content,” said Andrea Greenberg, MSG Networks President and CEO. “The introduction of MSG+ this summer will be a significant milestone for our company and will offer a mix of subscription options for fans who do not subscribe to a traditional, bundled pay television subscription. MSG+ will also provide significant value for our participating traditional distribution partners by offering access at no additional cost to their subscribers who receive our networks. In addition, we are pleased to introduce MSG SportsZone, a new platform that expands our reach nationally and provides us additional opportunities to monetize our archive and other non-game content.”
FAST networks are a growing thing in sports. And while they’re not likely to produce the volumes of audience or the revenue needed to put live sports there, they can be a useful destination to get some revenue out of already-created non-live programming. (And that’s before you consider the channels that are making new content specifically for the FAST market.) So it’s interesting to see a RSN like MSG diving in there, and it will be worth watching how that goes for them.