Reminder: Why It Has Been a Pain to Watch the Islanders Preseason Games

Kevin Schultz

If you’ve been looking to get your Islanders Hockey™ fix during the preseason and are unable to fly to Calgary and Nashville or hustle to Newark after work, it’s been a pain in the behind to figure out a way to watch the game. And that won’t change tonight, as the only way you’ll see the Islanders and Predators at the Coliseum is by making the drive to Uniondale.

freephotoNov15Last week against Calgary, the Islanders website picked up the Flames’ online stream of the game that was done on “Flames TV” with full annoucers, graphics, replays and everything. Because it’s Canada and people will riot if they don’t have their hockey. On Sunday, the Nashville Predators declined to stream their game, and with no one on the Islanders side lugging equipment to Music City, no one in TV land or on the internet saw it (until highlights magically emerged days later).

In between, the Islanders played a much ballyhooed preseason game against the Devils at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was a game that was talked about for a long time and got more local media coverage from print outlets than any Islanders game in… Years? Decades?

It was available online via the Barclays Center, but you couldn’t watch it on your television.

For a quick refresher, here’s an excerpt from this blog from editor emeritus Chris Botta in 2008 that is still remarkably accurate as the Islanders TV situation has not changed and will not until 2031:

As for why MSG+ isn’t showing any Islanders [preseason] games while MSG Network seems to show Rangers ex games every other night, that’s an easy one and you know why. The Rangers are owned by Cablevision, the makers of MSG Network. A Rangers broadcast is a three-hour infomercial for the hockey team ownership is not going to pass up.

On the other hand, the Islanders’ television broadcast rights are owned by MSG Network. MSG has the right to decide if they want to spend the money to produce Islanders games in Moncton, Uniondale or anywhere. They choose not to.

And with the Barclays Center now a direct competitor to MSG — and doing quite well — it’s no surprise that the network didn’t want anything to do with a game that, frankly, might have had decent ratings (well, decent for the Islanders anyway).

And all this leads us to tonight’s game at the Coliseum that you will only see by actually being there.

The team Twitter account announced this morning that the game wouldn’t be streamed online due to “technical difficulties.” Maybe there is something literally wrong with the equipment or maybe someone unplugged all the cameras in the building on purpose.

Either way, the next time you can look forward to easily watching the Islanders will be next Friday night in New Jersey. Until then, you’ll have to continue crossing your fingers for an online broadcast of the game, which has been a pursuit about as predictable as the weather.

While we’re at it, here’s some more from that 2008 article. That season, no Islanders preseason games were streamed online despite broadcast streams being available the previous year.

Islanders TV’s inability to show these ex games in Canada live and in living colour is a more difficult issue, but the reason is essentially the same. Not only does MSG Network have the broadcast rights for Islanders pre-season games, an impeccable TV industry source tells Point Blank that MSG Network also has the right to give the red light to any other company that wants to show the games.

It’s a fair leap to assume MSG opted to block ITV from broadcasting games live in Moncton, London, PEI or anywhere else. Yes, last year they allowed it. This year, nope.

To be clear, it’s not like the Islanders don’t want to have these games on ITV, MSG+ or anywhere else on the dial. MSG is exercising their contractual rights.