The past year has been tough for Madison Square Garden Sports, but Wall Street analysts are confident the future is bright. The New York Knicks and New York Rangers parent company amassed $415.7 million in revenues for the fiscal year ending in June. That mark caused them to operate at a loss of $78.4 million.
It wasn’t all bad news as their final quarter of fiscal revenues came in at $146.9 million, a big jump from negative $7 million in the same quarter the year before. According to the report, “higher league distributions, local media rights fees from MSG Networks, sponsorships and signage revenues,” drove the increase.
MSG Sports CEO, Jamie Lustgarten, portrayed a confident stance that the worst of the pandemic’s financial impact is behind the company.
“We are not completely out of the woods, but we are confident,” Lustgarten said on the earnings call. “New York has the highest vaccination rates, and our fans are comfortable attending games with vaccination mandates,” he added. “The company expects all their 82 games to take place in full capacity.”
Lustgarten recognizes the impact of sports betting on the current sports media climate and welcomes gambling’s ability to strengthen fan bases.
“We love sports betting for what it does for fan engagement,” he said. “It is great for the consumer experience, sponsorship value, and marketing.”
On Wall Street, analysts are scratching their heads as to why the company is trading lower than the valuations of their sports franchises would indicate. They estimate MSGS is trading at a “38% discount to the private market value of its marquee franchises.”
Lightshed Partners Brandon Ross discussed the numbers over the phone with Sportico.
“I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that MSG Sports own the premier sports franchises,” Ross told Sportico. “The biggest risk facing the future of sports teams is the ability to get high valuations on their media rights. And it so happens that both the Knicks and Rangers, are locked into very long-term local sports rights deals. And there’s still some time left on national sports rights deals.”
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at [email protected].
Stephen A. Smith: I Deserve to Be Highest-Paid ESPN Employee
“I’m doing all of these things. I’m not doing all of that to be in second place. I’m not doing all of that to look up at somebody else to see that they’re making more than me…”
Stephen A. Smith has been ESPN’s top dog for over a decade, and during his next contract negotiations, he plans to be paid like it — whether it’s ESPN or someone else signing the checks.
OutKick’s Clay Travis recently sat down with Stephen A. Smith and discussed a variety of media topics, including the latter’s next paycheck. Travis said that he hopes the price of top media personalities continues to rise, and asked Smith if it was important to him that he was the highest-paid talent at ESPN. Stephen A. did not mince words in his response.
“Yes. I’m not stuttering,” Stephen A. said. “Hell, yes, that’s absolutely true. I’ve mastered my own business in the world of sports television. Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for 12 years. April 1st will mark 12 consecutive years I’ve been number one. Not only have I been number one every year, I’ve been number one every week in every month of every year for the last 12 years. You don’t get to say that about too many people.
“I look at whether it’s Pat McAfee as Mike Greenberg, Scott Van Pelt, it’s Troy Aikman, it’s Joe Buck, it’s Kirk Herbstreit. The list goes on and on. I’m so honored to have the colleagues that I have that I work with at ESPN every day. And at the end of the day, it would be nice for one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, this is not I’m number one and this says I’m number one.”
Notably, Stephen A. mentions Joe Buck and Troy Aikman by name there because the Monday Night Football hosts are currently the only two ESPN talents that make more than Smith.
According to figures provided by TheSpun, Stephen A. makes $12 million per year, while Buck and Aikman make $15 million and $18 million per year, respectively.
However, Stephen A.’s value is much better for ESPN, as while the MNF duo only does one show with sporadic appearances across the network, Smith is everywhere. He does First Take, he has his own show, he covers the NBA on NBA Countdown, he hosts an alternate NBA telecast, he does appearances for other ESPN programs, and even finds time to guest star on ABC’s General Hospital. Smith knows he’s valuable to ESPN and Disney, but knows he’s set himself up for a life outside of them both should it come to that point.
“I’ve got my own YouTube channel,” Smith said. “I’ve got my own show. It’s not even just a podcast. It’s a show with a fully loaded television studio. That’s what I built for myself, that could go linear or digital. The list goes on and on. I’m doing all of these things. I’m not doing all of that to be in second place. I’m not doing all of that to look up at somebody else to see that they’re making more than me when I’m producing superior ratings and revenue. No, I’m not doing that. And I’m not apologizing to anybody for it.”
Stephen A. Smith finished his answer with poignant words for Disney and ESPN.
“Again, I’ve got great relationships and what have you, but this is a business and Disney has a right to run its business the way it sees fit. ESPN does as well. But if they do, so do I. I hope that we’re able to work it out. I’m confident that we will, because I’m incredibly happy there. We’ll see.”
Jeff Kotuby is a nationally-published journalist with bylines on many popular broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. Jeff grew up in the shadows of New York City and cultivated his love for sports media with the classic broadcasting voices of the area, like Mike & The Mad Dog, Mike “Doc” Emerick, and Michael Kay. You can reach Jeff on Twitter @JeffKotu3y.
Kevin Hart Partnering with ESPN, Omaha Productions for New Alternate NBA Broadcast
More dates for “NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart” will be announced as the NBA season continues, all of which will be available to watch on the ESPN app.
ESPN has unveiled a new alternate presentation for its coverage of the NBA in tandem with Hartbeat and Omaha Productions. Award-winning actor and comedian Kevin Hart will host the broadcast, titled NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, which will also feature the Plastic Cup Boyz, Joey Wells, Will Horton and Na’im Lynn. These programs will be focused on how Hart and his friends watch the NBA and feature discussion and debate. Moreover, there will be special guest appearances from top athletes and celebrities.
The program will make its debut in tandem with the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship Game at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN2 and the ESPN app. Concurrently, the traditional broadcast of the contest begins at the same time and features the network’s new lead broadcast team of Mike Breen, Doris Burke and Doc Rivers, and is set to air on ABC.
Throughout the NBA season, seven episodes of NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart will air in accordance with marquee games on ESPN platforms. At the moment, the other broadcasts of this alternate presentation that have been announced will take place on Friday, Jan. 5 and Wednesday, April 10, both on ESPN2 at 7:30 PM ET.
Hart founded Hartbeat, the global multi-platform media company that seeks to create entertaining content intersecting between comedy and culture. The entity is involved in creating the award-winning digital talk show Cold As Balls, along with the Olympic Highlights show featuring Hart and award-winning rap artist Snoop Dogg.
Omaha Productions, which was founded by Peyton Manning, has contributed to various ESPN alternate broadcasts in the past, including the NBA in Stephen A’s World and Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, colloquially known as the “ManningCast.”
More dates for NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart will be announced as the NBA season continues. Additionally, all of these broadcasts will be available to watch on the ESPN app.
Kirk Herbstreit: I Don’t Have an Agenda About College Football
Herbstreit told Pat McAfee the notion he has influence over the CFP Committee is laughable.
Florida State being left out of the College Football Playoff semifinals brought out plenty of conspiracies and beliefs that ESPN and personalities like Kirk Herbstreit somehow manipulated the rankings.
Herbstreit appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday, where Pat joked that Kirk gets to decide who gets in the playoff as well as other awards like the Heisman.
Kirk tried to quell anything floating around that might insinuate he makes any big decisions like that.
“I know you’re kidding, but there’s some people that think you’re serious when it comes to ESPN or me or anybody having any agenda or having anything to do with these teams,” he said. “It’s the committee that ultimately decides what’s going to happen.”
“I don’t have an agenda on anything other than I just want to see the subjective analysis of who the best four teams are,” Herbstreit added.
Kirk Herbstreit continued by saying that some of the loudest voices are misunderstanding what factors into what schools make the final four.
He explained that it was clear that Michigan was one and Washington two. The next group of teams to consider was called a cluster and consisted of programs like Alabama, Texas, Florida State and Georgia. Herbstreit was reading from what the playoff committee has to go off of when it comes to generating a final ranking.
“Conference championship, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition is another thing,” he said. “Comparative outcomes with a common opponent. None of these are weighted more than the other. And the last thing is other relevant factors such as unavailability of key players or coaches that may have affected a team’s performance or likely will affect its postseason performance.”
“That’s where this, to me, that’s what separated these teams,” he said. “You couldn’t put Alabama ahead of Texas, Texas beat Alabama. Based on all of those things I just mentioned, they must’ve said, Texas is gonna go to number three probably because of the head-to-head. And then you got Alabama and Florida State and Georgia.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.