07 August 2015
Sports and the Media: Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden. The Mecca of Basketball. The home of the New York Knicks. As a media enterprise and advertising machine, no team in the NBA is covered with more detail, scrutiny, and bright-light showmanship than the New York Knickerbockers. With the broadcasting giant Madison Square Garden Network behind the Knicks, it’s easy to understand the team’s enormous fanbase all across the nation.
Founded in 1969 to broadcast professional hockey games, Madison Square Garden (MSG) was the first regional sports network in all of North America. In early 1970, New York Knickerbocker games broadcasting rights were granted to MSG, by Sterling Manhattan Cable Television, a broadcasting company run by eventual Knicks and MSG owner Charles Dolan. Though Knicks games later appeared on such channels as HBO and Paramount Communications, the broadcasting rights were retained by MSG.
Under the ownership of James Dolan, MSG is a company composed of three interdependent pieces: MSG Sports, MSG Media, and MSG Entertainment. Currently, MSG Sports owns and licenses the broadcasting rights of the NBA’s New York Knicks, the WNBA’s New York Liberty, The NHL’s New York Rangers, and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. MSG Sports also hosts separate, individual sporting events, such as college sport games or exhibition games. MSG Media specializes in content development and production to be hosted on MSG Network, as well as other, outside media sources. Finally, MSG Entertainment is responsible for live action show production, radio specials, family shows, and concerts, all of which are hosted across a number of venues owned and operated by MSG.
New York is widely considered to be the home of basketball. Across all five of the boroughs, (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) basketball is practically a religion, with notable players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Carmelo Anthony emerging from New York. Although basketball was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, New York has established itself as an epicenter for basketball and basketball-related activities, with such historic locations as Rucker Park, a world-renowned streetball court.
Along with a strong loyalty to basketball, New York’s relationship with it’s famed Knickerbockers is deeply rooted. With only two championship seasons recorded in their sixty-eight year history, the Knicks have moved past conventional success as their primary goal. The Knicks’ main objective is to put on a show. As one of the largest market teams in the NBA, the Knicks can get away with awful seasons, and still fill every seat. In the 2013-14 season, the Knicks managed an abysmal 37 game win and 45 game loss record, a massive drop from their previous 2012-13 season, where they netted 54 wins, 28 losses, and a number two seed spot in the playoffs. Despite their poor performance, the Knicks and Madison Square Garden garnered on average, 19,812 fans per game, the third highest attendance record in the league.
From the early days of Clyde Fraizer and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, to the mid-90’s Ewing and John Starks-led Knicks, Madison Square Garden and it’s marketing ability to portray the team as the heart of the city are just as important to New York as the Empire State Building.