Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Why The Cablevision/ABC Battle Matters to Mets Fans

Posted by JD on March 7, 2010

As many of you know first-hand, Cablevision and Disney are currently locked in a contract dispute that has prevented millions of local viewers from viewing the Oscars. I can’t say that I’m qualified to judge who’s right or wrong here, nor do I care to: that’s for you to decide. What I can tell you is that those of you who openly pine for the Wilpons to sell the Mets should pay close attention, because the Dolans are the prime candidates to be the owner should they sell.

Cablevision owns the Rangers, Knicks, Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and various other related properties. Charles Dolan (founder and chairman) and his son Jim (president, CEO, and blues guitarist*) have cornered the Long Island media market: they recently purchased Newsday and have a virtual stranglehold on the market (if you haven’t read this article about how they’ve neutered Newsday, I urge you to do so). The sports and news properties they own primarily serve as content-providers, cash cows that drive viewers to subscribe to their cable monopoly. It’s a effective strategy: current market studies show that 75% of Long Island house holds are Cablevision subscribers.

*I ask you this: is there anything more offensive than the son of a billionaire playing the blues? I think not.

Any fan of the Rangers or Knicks (and I’m both) can tell you that the Dolans value conformity and loyalty over anything else. Glen Sather has run the Rangers into mediocrity since 2000 and Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas absolutely ruined what should be one of the NBA’s premiere franchises, but they kept their jobs because swore allegiance to the Dolan flag. The bottom line for the organization is not the number of championships they win, it’s the number of subscribers they have. The worst part of this equation is that by their definition they’re very successful: Cablevision makes money hand over fist.

I can tell you this: the Dolans haven’t had viable summer content for their MSG network since SNY debuted. They would jump on the chance to purchase the Mets and have more than enough money to do so. SNY would disappear or become MSG2 and 1050 AM would become the flagship radio station. Every negative surrounding the Rangers’ and Knicks’ front offices would be replicated in Flushing before you could blink an eye. Cronyism may or may not be present in the front office today, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it would become institutionalized as soon as the purchase was completed.

You can say what you want about the Wilpons and I certainly won’t defend them (personally, I happen to think that Fred’s not that bad, but Jeff strikes me as a total buffoon). Their priorities often conflict with the average fan and I think we’ve all been frustrated by them more than once (to be charitable). However, as tone-deaf as they may seem, they strike me as being infinitely more responsive to us than the Dolans would be. Speaking strictly as a fan who dreams of new ownership for my hockey and basketball teams, I hope the Wilpons don’t sell. I don’t think I could handle having the Dolans run three of my favorite franchises, and that’s the most likely outcome.

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2 Responses to “Why The Cablevision/ABC Battle Matters to Mets Fans”

  1. BlueSeater said

    If the Dolans bought the Mets, I’d seriously consider switching my allegiance to the Bronx. I’ve suffered with the Rangers for so long, I don’t think I could take the pain year-round.

    • JD said

      I don’t know if I could ever root for the Yankees, but I get what you’re saying. There have been so many mistakes at MSG over the past ten years that I’ve begun to lose track. It would be tough stomaching it all year round.

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