Comcast Bay Area Takes VOD MLB Swing


Just days after its re-launch, Comcast Bay Area is one of the first regional sports networks to pitch Major League Baseball games on demand.

The network, formerly called FSN Bay Area, launched as Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and immediately began offering an on-demand package of San Francisco Giants content that included replays of the club's first series of the 2008 season against nemesis the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as classic Giants games and other shoulder programming, according to network officials.

CSN Bay Area will offer current games within a 24-hour window or before the next live Giants game, whichever one comes first. Comcast is the predominant cable operator in the region. 

Comcast, cable's foremost VOD proponent, last April purchased Cablevision Systems’ 60% interest in then FSN Bay Area as part of a $570 million deal – FSN owns the other 40% -- with Cablevision Systems Corp. that also included the latter's 50% stake in FSN New England, which has since been re-branded Comcast New England.

In December, the Giants purchased a 20% to 25% interest in Comcast Bay Area, a stake that was taken equally from both Comcast and FSN’s ownership holdings, according to executives close to the network.

Last September, MLB relaxed its rules on VOD services, which previously had been controlled by MLB Advanced Media, according to the Sports Business Daily.

“We think San Francisco is a prime location for new technology and exploring new avenues … this is one advantage of being teamed up with Comcast cable, the leader of VOD,” said Comcast Bay Area general manager Ted Griggs, who added the network is currently talking to the Oakland Athletics about a potential VOD package as well. “To be able to team up with [the Giants] and use that new technology to reach a different audience will be fantastic.”

An FSN spokesman said the company – which has cable rights to 14 MLB teams -- is in discussion with baseball regarding offering varied VOD content.