MSG Network is using the New York Knicks’ upcoming return to the playoffs after a prolonged absence as a high-profile opportunity to establish the network’s commitment to dual-screen viewing.
During the Knicks’ opening game, which is expected to occur either this Saturday or Sunday (depending on how the remainder of the NBA’s schedule plays out) MSG will introduce MSGxtra, a new web site designed to serve as a companion to the network’s TV viewing experience. MSGxtra is aimed at the growing number of fans who watch live sports with some sort of access to the Internet; it has been specifically optimized for iPads and iPhones, though it also works on laptops or desktops.
But rather than providing fans with just basic stats, MSGxtra will feature original ‘during-the-game’ content. For example, throughout each playoff contest, the site will periodically post live video featuring MSG’s on-air talent, as well as sideline reports from the games as they unfold.
In addition, fans will be able to stream on demand video clips like original playoff preview segments and interviews. The site will also house real-time posting of photos from the game, a live Twitter feed aggregating Knick fans commentary, and live stats.
For MSG, this new digital offering allows the network to maintain its relationship with Knicks fans during the playoffs, when many of the games shift to other networks. Plus, it allows the company to test ideas about the future of two-screen experiences in broadcasting. “We wanted to take a very MSG centric approach to this,” explained Scott Richman, svp/gm of MSG Interactive. “It’s our perspective, our personality. We’re infusing the voice of our experts and how we present a game. And we feel like it’s important [to test this] as it allow a brand like MSG to experiment with multiplatform programming.”
MSGxtra will be promoted via Knicksnow.com, the team’s social media infused fan community site, as well as on the air. MSG has yet to land any advertisers for MSGxtra, though Richman is confident that it will be sold as part of upcoming playoff packages. While the hope is to use a long Knicks playoff run as a testing ground for MSGxta (the Rangers aren't included in this spring's plans), the expectation is that the network will offer the same sort of live content for each Knick and New York Ranger game next year, 164 games in total.
“We think this is the future of how to present games,” he said. “It’s not enough just to have a Web site.”