Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bay Area Sports Media Market

6. San Francisco Bay Area

2.4 Million Television Households

The San Francisco Bay Area in cludes Oakland and Sacramento. Currently there are two sports networks in the area, Fox Sports Net Bay Area and Comcast SportsNet West. FSN Bay Area is 60% owned by Cablevision and 40% owned by Fox (even after the recent parting of ways on other networks). FSN Bay Area began life as SportsChannel Pacific in 1990.

FSN carries 75 A's games and 110 Giants games. 111 of the combined total will be broadcast in HD in 2005.

In July, 2002 the Warriors announced a new agreement with FSN to be the team's exclusive television network with 60 games to be distributed. This replaced a long term agreement that had previously been struck in 1999 that only provided for 30-35 games. The renegotiation was a direct result of the Kings moving to Comcast.

In April, 2004, FSN and the A's announced a "long-term" extension to their existing contract, with an expansion in the number of games from 60 to 75. The strategy behind this was questionable in my mind due to the fact that the team probably could have negotiated for a stake in a new channel with Comcast with distribution of even more games. But it remains to be seen how long-term this agreement really is. I would venture to guess that the A's have kept their long-term options to a certain extent based on the fact that Comcast has made mention of their long-term strategy to acquire more team rights.

FSN also renegotiated their contract with FSN to significantly increase their games from 60 to 110 over several years. The Giants are under contract until 2012.

Comcast SportsNet West officially launched November 2, 2004 after Comcast acquired the rights to 50 Kings games in a 10 year deal. The rest of the programming schedule is relatively weak, with games from Fresno State, UC-Davis and Sac State.

Kaiser Prediction: The Sharks will defect from FSN and move to Comcast when their deal expires after the 05-06 season.

The 60/40 ownership split between CVC and Fox in this region should make for an interesting battle over time. CVC's share is essentially a Wild Card, and by holding it they can eventually either sell control of the network to Comcast (which would be a kick in the seat for Fox because Comcast might choose to drop the FSN network programming) or sell it to Fox which would mean a bidding war for each team as their contracts come up. This is bound to be a losing battle for Fox.

Kaiser Prediction: CVC will eventually sell its 60% stake to Comcast, because they are probably willing to pay more to cut out the middleman once again. Fox will retain its minority stake and hope to make more money than it ever has under Cablevision due to the local teams' decreased leverage in negotiating rights fees with the local MSO monopoly.

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