Knicks' struggles will come at a price

The New York Knicks' rough start is going to cost Madison Square Garden shareholders a projected $6 million in profits.

The estimate was put forth Friday by Rich Tullo, director of research for Albert Fried & Company, which covers the MSG stock.

"As the Harlem Globetrotters are the only New York professional [basketball] team winning in Madison Square Garden this season, we cut our estimates to reflect light TV ratings," Tullo wrote.

Through last week, the New York Daily News reported that average viewers per game was down almost 20 percent as compared to a similar point in the season last year.

"Following more than 20 games highlighted by creative destruction, we think the sample set is large enough to determine lower estimates," Tullo wrote.

At 5-23, the Knicks have the second-worst winning percentage in the league (.179), ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers.

Tullo said that Madison Square Garden is insulated somewhat from a bad season in that only 30 percent of revenues from the MSG Network come from advertising, while the rest is made up of affiliate fees that are locked in. Ticket revenues are also a somewhat steady business.

"Our view is New York in the winter is a basketball town," Tullo wrote. "Thus owing to great teams visiting the Knicks and sports tourists, we think the demand for 41 Knicks games and its 18,500 seats is somewhat inelastic in the short term."

Over the last three months, MSG stock is actually up more than 14 percent.