Giants Get Stake In FSN Bay Area

The San Francisco Giants didn’t need the lure of Barry Bonds to gain an ownership stake in Fox Sports Net Bay Area.

The San Francisco Giants will gain a 20% to 30% share in the Comcast and Fox Sports-owned regional sports network as part of a 25-year renewal deal with the 4.6 million subscriber network, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s unclear whether the Giants’ stake will come from Comcast’s 60% interest in the network or Fox Sports’ 40% stake. Comcast last April purchased Cablevision subsidiary Rainbow Media Holdings’ 60% interest in FSN Bay Area, as well as the 50% stake in 4.63 million-subscriber FSN New England that it didn’t own, giving Comcast full control of that service. 

Unclear is whether the network’s other pro sports teams, Major League Baseball's Oakland A’s, the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors and the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks will also seek a financial interest in the network.

The deal puts the Giants – which at the end of last season cut ties with Bonds, baseball’s controversial home run king who was recently indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction for allegedly lying under oath regarding his use of steroids -- in the same game as the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and White Sox, and Cleveland Indians, relative to baseball team ownership in popular and valuable regional sports networks, according to cable sports network consultant Lee Berke. The Yankees own the majority of Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network; the Mets share an interest with Comcast and Time Warner Cable in Sports Net New York; the Cubs and White Sox are owners with Comcast in Comcast Sports Net Chicago; and the Indians control SportsTime Ohio. 

“This moves the club to the top tier in team RSN relationships,” said Berke, who worked with the Giants to secure the deal.

Ted Griggs, vice president and acting general manager of FSN Bay Area said in a statement that deal will enable the network to create new and innovative sports programming and high-definition television coverage of the team. “We are thrilled to extend our partnership with the Giants for the long term because they are such an important part of local sports culture,” he said in a statement.

Giants executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Baer said in a statement that the team is “excited to deepen our relationship with FSN Bay Area, one of the signature regional sports networks in the country. The extension of our partnership will enable us to deliver enhanced and expanded Giants television programming to area sports fans throughout the year.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.