BETHPAGE, N.Y. September 10, 2009 -- Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) announced today that it is launching MSG Varsity, the ultimate destination for high school sports and activities. This first-of-its-kind initiative includes a multi-platform suite of services comprised of: a 24/7 television network serving four distinct local regions in the tri-state area, a comprehensive online destination, and a groundbreaking interactive service. Beginning September 24, these services will be available to all of Cablevision's iO TV and Optimum Online high-speed Internet customers, reaching three million households throughout the New York market.
In addition to its professional productions, MSG Varsity is encouraging high schools across Cablevision's footprint to become co-producers of MSG Varsity's content. Through an unprecedented partnership, students and faculty will be provided extraordinary access to curriculum and training in multimedia creation and distribution, empowering them to become active participants in telling their school's stories. This school-generated content will be included on MSG Varsity's television and online platforms, enabling communities to watch and follow the positive activities and events taking place in their area high schools.
Tad Smith, president of Local Media said, "MSG Varsity marks the first launch ever of a comprehensive suite of services dedicated entirely to high school activities. For more than three decades, Cablevision has delivered industry-leading technology and pioneering local content to the New York market. This innovative history combined with our long-standing commitment to education uniquely positions Cablevision to deliver a product like MSG Varsity, which we believe will generate enormous value for participating students, parents and schools, and for the communities we serve."
"MSG Varsity is truly about celebrating the students both in front of and behind the camera. Whether they are athletes or actors, debaters or trumpet players, students are passionate about what they do and MSG Varsity gives them an incredible opportunity to share that passion with their fellow students and parents," said MSG Varsity's General Manager Theresa Chillianis. "We are looking forward to working hand-inhand with our partner schools to develop content that resonates with their own communities, and that will make MSG Varsity unlike any other service available today."
Multi-Platform Suite of Services
MSG Varsity will deliver the premier video experience as a 24/7, professionally produced, linear network that will go beyond high school sports to cover high school activities such as debate, band, drama, dance, student government and more. With four unique programming feeds - serving Long Island, Brooklyn/Bronx, Connecticut/Westchester/Hudson Valley, and New Jersey -- students, families and communities will have access to the coverage that matters most to them.
Specific programming will include:
- "High School Sports Showcase," with full coverage of more than 400 live-to-tape games and events each year
- Daily studio shows such as "High School SportsDesk," an all-encompassing sports highlight show
- Weekly series such as "The Cheering Life," a behind-the-scenes look that shows viewers what it's like to try out, train and compete
- Specials such as "The Marching Bands," which captures the inspiring halftime performances of the regions' top high school bands
- Weekly programming such as "A Quick: 60," a live call-in show on high school sports featuring high school sports guru, Mike Quick, and "The High School Journal," a magazine show that spotlights important, but less televised activities such as tennis, swimming, drama, chess, debate and more
- "The Challenge," a highly acclaimed academic quiz show for top high school students in the tri-state area
MSG Varsity will be available on Cablevision's iO TV service, channel 14.
MSGVarsity.com is a comprehensive online destination that brings together essentially all of MSG Varsity's professional and school-generated content, originating from a vast array of resources including MSG Varsity's partner schools. Students will be empowered to create content that will populate MSG Varsity's Web site. This site is comprised of the MSGVarsity.com homepage, through which users can access four distinct regional Web sites covering Long Island, Bronx/Brooklyn, Connecticut/Westchester/Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, and dedicated Web sites for partner schools.
MSG Varsity's robust network of Web sites will deliver:
- A broad video offering - games, event highlights, interviews and more
- School-specific editorial content including feature stories, and student, coach and faculty profiles
- A full gallery of event and game action photos and photo shoots featuring athletes / students
- Interactive features such as polling and quizzes
- Up-to-date information on team rosters, statistics, schedules and standings
- Programming and schedule information for the MSG Varsity network
MSG Varsity Interactive will leverage the power of the Internet and interactive television to showcase MSG Varsity's content in a new, innovative way. This interactive television offering will take MSG Varsity's comprehensive library of professional and school-generated content from the Internet and make it available for viewing on television on Cablevision's iO TV, channel 614. Participating high schools will be given the opportunity to populate this interactive platform with content they choose to make available to their communities.
Viewers will be able to dig deeper into the MSG Varsity experience as they use their television remote control to tune to MSG Varsity Interactive, where they can search for and select the content they want to watch, including coverage of high school sports games and other school activities, specials and documentaries, photos, sports statistics and much more.
With access to interactive content from all four regions, viewers can watch what's going on - at their school, at neighboring schools and in their communities - at any time, with the full functionality of the iO interactive television platform.
An Unprecedented Partnership
MSG Varsity is putting the expertise and resources of Cablevision to work for high schools across Cablevision's service area. Through a powerful community outreach effort, MSG Varsity is making a significant commitment to deliver the resources schools need to be a part of this exciting initiative, which will give students the unprecedented opportunity to be active participants in telling their school's stories to their communities.
MSG Varsity will prepare and empower students and faculty with valuable 21st century skills and training in multimedia creation and distribution. Producers and on-air talent will work directly with schools, guiding them through the fundamentals of television production, and mentoring them in the creation of online, interactive and television content. In addition, faculty will be given the opportunity to participate in training courses on media and technology skills.
In addition to training, each school will be given turnkey tools to create their own personalized content, including video equipment for content creation, Web templates for the development of a school-branded Web site, and a specialized portal that will allow each school to upload content directly. School-generated content will include everything from video clips to photos to scores, stats and other information. As part of MSG Varsity's efforts to encourage and recognize student contributions, MSG Varsity is also providing two scholarships to each partner school, which will be awarded by the schools to students who go above and beyond in their participation and creation of content.
MSG Varsity's General Manager
Theresa Chillianis has been appointed general manager of MSG Varsity and will oversee strategic development, operations and management of Cablevision's new suite of television, online and interactive services dedicated entirely to high school sports and activities. Ms. Chillianis has been a Cablevision executive for nearly 10 years. She most recently served as senior vice president of Strategy and Business Operations for Fuse, a national music and entertainment cable television network. Prior to that, Ms. Chillianis oversaw product management for Cablevision's iO TV digital cable service. Before joining Cablevision, Ms. Chillianis worked at Clairol in brand and product management.
Ms. Chillianis holds a Bachelor of Science from Providence College and a Master of Business Administration from New York University's Stern School of Business. She is a WICT Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Fellow and sits on the board of Forestdale Inc., a non-profit organization that provides foster care for children in need.
Ms. Chillianis lives in Floral Park with her husband and three children. For her high school experience, Ms. Chillianis attended St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, New York.
Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) is one of the nation's leading media and entertainment companies. Its cable television operations serve more than 3 million households in the New York metropolitan area. The company's advanced telecommunications offerings include its iO TV® digital television, Optimum Online® high-speed Internet, Optimum Voice® digital voice-over-cable, and its Optimum Lightpath integrated business communications services. Cablevision operates several successful programming businesses, including AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv, through Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, and serves the New York area as publisher of Newsday and other niche publications through Newsday Media Group. In addition to these businesses, Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden and its sports teams, the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. The company also operates New York's famed Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre, and owns and operates Clearview Cinemas.
MSG Varsity's Programming
"High School Sports Showcase"
MSG Varsity delivers full live-to-tape coverage of more than 400 events each year divided among four local regions - Long Island, Brooklyn/Bronx, Connecticut/Westchester/Hudson Valley, and New Jersey. Event coverage will include football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, track and field, wrestling, baseball, softball and more.
"High School SportsDesk"
This daily roundup show will be chock full of highlights from games held the day/night before, covering all four of MSG Varsity's local regions in the tri-state area. The half-hour show will also include athlete interviews and feature stories on a wide range of high school sports topics, with News 12's regional talent contributing to the show's coverage. "Plays of the Week," team rankings, "Where Are They Now?" segments, profiles, coaches' discussions, and teasers for upcoming games, match-ups and rivalries will all be a part of this fast-moving, sports show.
"A Quick: 60"
This live call-in talk show about high school sports, featuring high school sports guru Mike Quick, will include instudio guests as well as live back-and-forth with a variety of coaches, players, and interested parties from remote sites throughout the tri-state area. The weekly show will also present a "student spotlight" segment, during which a student will appear on the show to present his or her own video feature.
"The Cheering Life"
In this 10-episode series, MSG Varsity takes viewers behind the scenes to experience what it's like to try out, train and compete as part of a cheerleading squad. The weekly show will follow several cheerleading teams as they prepare for their upcoming season, as well as local and national competitions. Coverage will include back-stories with the students, parents and coaches, and all the action that comes with participating in this high-energy activity. Bonus behind-the-scenes coverage will be available on MSGVarsity.com.
"The Marching Bands"
Nothing creates a feeling of spirit and excitement like a marching band. Now, MSG Varsity is creating a special series that will capture these inspiring halftime performances at games throughout MSG Varsity's four local regions.
A popular, highly acclaimed academic quiz show for top high school students in the tri-state area. For the past 12 years, hundreds of schools and thousands of students have competed in "The Challenge." MSG Varsity will produce new episodes highlighting the different regions in a competition that will lead to a championship showdown with scholarships as part of the grand prize. The new season of "The Challenge" will premiere on MSG Varsity in November, with different shows airing daily, Sunday through Friday.
"The High School Journal"
With features, back-stories and video highlights, this weekly show shines a spotlight on important, but less televised events that take place in high schools, giving these under-exposed activities the attention they deserve. Event coverage will include fencing, tennis, swimming, bowling, crew, chess, drama, debate, charitable activities and more.
"High School Sports Weekly"
This weekly show, hosted by high school sports guru Mike Quick, will feature a variety of on-air reporters, delivering the week's hottest highlights and stories in high school sports across the tri-state area.
"The Game of the Week"
MSG Varsity picks one of the very best and most competitive games in the tri-state area as its "Game of the Week."
A Natural Extension Of Cablevision's Resources And Expertise
MSG Varsity is a natural extension of Cablevision's history of industry-leading technology and pioneering, local content, and long-standing commitment to education.
Cablevision delivers a full suite of best-in-class, Optimum-branded services including iO TV, a robust digital television offering; Optimum Online, America's fastest high-speed Internet service; and Optimum Voice, a superior voice product. In addition to a full line up of award-winning services, Cablevision has a history of developing groundbreaking technology that adds value for its customers such as Optimum WiFi, Ultra, and interactive advertising.
News 12 Networks
In 1986, Cablevision pioneered the idea of hyper-local programming with the launch of the nation's first 24-hour local news cable channel, News 12 Long Island. Today, News 12 Networks is made up of seven individual local news channels, and five traffic and weather channels serving Long Island, New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, Westchester County, the Hudson Valley, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as News 12 Interactive on iO TV's channel 612, news12.com, and News 12 to Go cell phone service. Reaching more than 3.8 million households in the New York market, News 12 Networks is the country's first, largest, and most watched 24-hour local television news network. The Networks' award-winning programming will continue to include coverage of local high school sports and news, now working in partnership with MSG Varsity.
Since starting 40 years ago, MSG network has been joined by a sister regional network - MSG Plus. Together, the MSG Networks are home to seven professional sports teams: the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Liberty, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres and New York Red Bulls, and deliver critically acclaimed original series and documentary programs. For more than two decades, MSG Networks have covered high school sports, led by high school sports guru, Mike Quick. Today, they are one of the country's leading producers of high school content, which includes a slate of the tri-state area's top football, boys and girls basketball and lacrosse games.
For more than three decades, Cablevision has provided locally produced programs on important community activities, connecting people to relevant events, entertainment and issues that may not be available through other media forums. Specific Local Programming includes "Meet the Leaders," an insightful program with area leaders that explores the people, policies and issues responsible for directing the future course of regional communities, and "Neighborhood Journal," which spotlights unique local stories. Local Programming's "Cablevision Sportscene," which brings viewers high school sporting events throughout the New York area, will now find a new home as part of MSG Varsity's "High School Sports Showcase."
Newsday Media Group
Newsday was launched in 1940 as one of the country's first suburban newspapers. Nearly 70 years later, the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper has grown to become one of the nation's largest daily newspapers and has expanded to include Newsday.com, its popular Web site; amNewYork, the nation's most widely circulated free daily serving New York City; and Star Community Publishing, the Northeast's largest group of weekly shopper publications. During this time, Newsday has also enjoyed robust relationships with local area high schools through a number of initiatives, including: N-Zone, its editorial coverage of high school sports; FutureCorps, a Newsday initiative that has put more than 700,000 local K through college students to work on community service projects over the past 10 years; and Newsday's High School Marching Band Festival, which brings together high school bands for three days of exhibition before tens of thousands of cheering Long Islanders.
Power to Learn
Cablevision has had a long-standing commitment to education through its nationally recognized Power to Learn initiative, which reaches more than one million students, parents, and teachers annually, and also provides services to approximately 4,000 schools and 500 public libraries. Through its "Triple Play for Education," Power to Learn makes Cablevision's full suite of video, high-speed Internet and voice services available, free of charge, to all K-12 schools within Cablevision's service area. No other telecommunications company offers a free Triple Play. Power to Learn also offers content, programs and events that integrate technology into learning, including "Internet Smarts," "The Challenge" game show, and www.powertolearn.com, a free Web resource for teachers and parents.