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Cablevision explores option of selling Rangers

If blowing a 3-1 series lead and getting knocked out of the first round wasn’t enough incentive for the New York Rangers to shake things up, a franchise sale might be.

Cablevision Systems Corp., who owns the Rangers as well as the NBA’s Knicks, Madison Square Garden and a regional sports network, has said it would “explore the spinoff of its Madison Square Garden business.”

Occasionally a company will announce their intentions to spin off as a way to gauge the company’s market value. While it’s unclear whether Cablevision intends to sell or not, the news, which was revealed in the last line of the company’s first-quarter earnings report, could potentially put the Rangers in new hands.

Industry analysts have also speculated Cablevision may eventually sell the entire company to Time Warner Cable, or that they may sell just their sports entertainment group to raise extra money to compete in the cable business.

Cablevision, which supplies cable television, broadband lines and Internet phone service across the New York metropolitan area, has faced tough competition as of late from Time Warner and Verizon Wireless.

Another possibility is the Dolan family, Cablevision’s principal owner, selling its cable business and putting its focus on running the Rangers, Knicks, MSG network and its venues.

“Cablevision watchers (and we’d put ourselves in that category) have long pondered possible endgames,” Craig Moffett, a senior analyst at Bernstein Research, wrote in a report Thursday morning after Cablevision’s earnings were released. “And the notion that the Dolans would retain ownership of MSG and the New York sports teams long after the rest of the assets had been divested has always been viewed as among the most likely outcomes.”


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