GSoM Q&A with Ted Griggs- Acting GM, FSN Bay Area 4/25/07

Golden State of Mind friend Jen Franklin connected us up with Ted Griggs the acting VP and GM of FSN Bay Area for a little Q&A about our favorite local sports TV channel and the Warriors' local TV coverage.

Here's a little bit about Ted:

Ted Griggs is vice president and general manager of FSN Bay Area. FSN Bay Area is the regional sports network that broadcasts to over 4 million customers in Northern California and Nevada. FSN Bay Area's programming includes Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants baseball, Golden State Warriors basketball, San Jose Sharks hockey and San Jose SaberCats football. Day-to-day, Ted is responsible for the operations of FSN Bay Area, including affiliate relations, advertising sales, programming, production, marketing and public relations.

Before taking over as general manager, Ted spent nine years as vice president of programming and operations for FSN Bay Area. In this position, Griggs was responsible for all facets of programming and production for the network, with concentration on local development and coordination of FSN's national product. In 2004, FSN Bay Area became the first Bay Area network to produce games in high-definition television (HDTV). FSN Bay Area features over 350 local professional and Pac-10 events per year. During his tenure, the network has won 25 local Emmy Awards and three Beacon Awards. The Beacon Award is cable television's highest award for public affairs excellence.

Griggs' television experience is extensive. He spent 15 years (1982-1997) at Golden Gate Productions (GGP) as a producer, senior producer (1982-1994) and vice president, executive producer (1994-1997). Griggs has worked on numerous sporting events at GGP, including Sports Illustrated For Kids Olympics Special for NBC, World Cup Soccer Preview for ABC, MCI Downhill Replays for NBC and CBS, eleven years of NFL Super Bowl Specials, twelve years of Pre-Olympic programming for national/international distribution, Stanford University Football, and World Cup Downhill Skiing. While at Trans World International, TWI (IMG), Griggs was a senior producer (1997-98) and produced several network ski series (FOX, NBC, CBS). He also directed events for WNBC and ESPN. Prior to GGP and IMG, Griggs was a sports producer for KRON-TVs Sports Final (1981-1982).

A Cum Laude graduate in 1984, Griggs earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio & Television from San Francisco State University. He was also a Bob Brown Memorial Scholarship recipient (given to the top student in Broadcast Journalism).

A native of Hayward, California, Griggs currently resides in Novato, California with his wife Amy and his three children, Jace, Griffin and Sydney. He is also the President of the Novato Lacrosse Club, a youth non-profit.

On to the Q&A...

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Golden State of Mind: FSN Bay Area is the mothership of local sports coverage in the Bay Area with the rights to the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, San Francisco Giants, San Jose Sharks, San Jose Sabercats, Cal, and Stanford. How do these teams rank with respect to TV ratings? Any interesting trends in viewership over the past 2-3 years?

Ted Griggs: The most interesting, and somewhat predictable trend is that fans watch winning teams. We can add all the production enhancement we want, super slo-mo, diamond cams, robotic cameras, interesting graphics and statistics, and it hardly causes a blip in the ratings if the team isn't winning. Conversely, we could shoot a game with two cameras and a single tape machine and a winning team will do well in the ratings. However, it goes much further than that. If the Warriors or Giants are losing early, the ratings drop. But if they make a comeback, the ratings increase. It shows the power of the remote control and the FOX BOX (the graphic we have at the top of the screen which gives the score and situation in the game.) Viewers turn off if the team is losing and check back in to see if they have caught up. If they have, the viewers stay. It is also interesting, and predictable that a blow-out victory for the home team keeps the ratings. Everybody like to party when the home team is winning.

Golden State of Mind: The Warriors have missed the playoffs for so many years, but haven't seem to lost many fans. How do their local TV ratings rank against those of other NBA teams?

Ted Griggs: Generally, Warriors ratings are in the middle-of-the-pack as compared to other NBA teams.

Golden State of Mind: Because Comcast moved FSN Plus from regular cable to digital cable many Warrior fans missed a lot of key games down the stretch for this exciting playoff push. When two or more of the Bay Area sports teams under FSN Bay Area's umbrella coverage are playing at the same time, what's the criteria for who gets airtime on the main FSN channel versus FSN+?

Ted Griggs: I'm not sure I'd agree with the first statement. In fact, I'd say the opposite is true. As the Warriors hit the stretch, we DID add a game on Wednesday March 4th (Warriors @ Houston) to the FSN Plus channel, but that was an added game and we joined the Sharks vs. Anaheim game in progress because of it - much to the displeasure of the Sharks fans (30 e-mails and phone calls). The Giants were on the main channel that night because it was their opening night game. On 3/6 the Warriors @ Memphis game was on Plus again because the Giants were playing the Dodgers. After that, the Warriors were on the main channel on 4/7 (vs. San Antonio) while the A's were on Plus, the Warriors were on the main channel on 4/9 (vs. Utah) while the Giants were on Plus, the Warriors were on the main channel on 4/17 (vs. Dallas) and 4/18 vs. Portland while the Giants were on Plus both nights (including a game against the World Champion Cardinals). The Warriors were on Plus on 4/6 because the Giants were playing their biggest rival (the Dodgers) and on 4/13 because the Sharks were in a playoff game.

By way of explanation, I hope this answers your question, we TRY to put the most important games to each franchise on the main channel while showing the others on Plus.

Except in extreme historical circumstances, playoff games always trump regular season games. Also, the FSN Plus channel in a VERY GOOD channel. In fact, technically as an all digital channel, it is better than any channel except a high def channel. And the cost per month, $10, is less than most people would pay for lunch, parking, or a hot dog and beer at a game. We think it is a pretty good deal.

Golden State of Mind: A lot of the Warriors games on FSN Bay Area are broadcast in HD, but many are broadcast in only standard definition. How are the games that get HD treatment picked?

Ted Griggs: We are budgeted for and have a commitment to do 150 games in HD in 2007. To be fair, we try to do about 40% of each team's schedule. 40% of the Warriors' 71 games we broadcast is 28 games. We will do 30 this year, 31 if you count our playoff game on Sunday, April 29th.

We try to pick games against traditionally strong rivals, then go with prime time (7P to 10P) games, and try to have a fair amount of games spread over each month of the season.

Finally, we take into account satellite availability and try to avoid other strong sports programming such as the NCAA Final Four or the College Football Championship Game.

Golden State of Mind: Bob and Jim seem like cool, down to earth kind of guys. Can you shed a little light onto our 2 favorite TV personalities off the camera? Do you have any fun stories?

Ted Griggs: They are remarkable, just like the seem on the air. Both are extremely intelligent about all things, not just basketball.

Jim is naturally curious and probably is the most knowledgeable analyst in the game. Most analysts talk about what just happened. Jim tells you what will happen. He is very competitive and proud of his accomplishments as a player, but doesn't like to brag. We've had to prod him to talk about when he played, because of that modesty. This is a guy who guarded Jerry West, Oscar Robinson, a guy who drove on Wilt, on Kareem. It's interesting to hear what that was like. Jim also has a great sense of humor. Once, in the NBA store in NYC, he went through all the NBA champions in the 70's and remarked on how many of the teams won titles the year after he was traded from that team.

Bob is a Bay Area native who knows the area's sports history better than anyone. He loves Notre Dame football, and all things Fighting Irish. He's also a huge White Sox fan (he lived there before moving to Foster City). He was at Comiskey when the Sox played in World Series games #1 and #2.

Golden State of Mind: What's the best perk about being working for FSN Bay Area?

Ted Griggs: The best perk is when we are watching games at home and my wife says, "Quit wasting the day (or night) watching sports on TV!" I can honestly turn to her and say, "Leave me alone will you? I'm working here!"

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All of us at GSoM wanted to extend a big thank you to both Ted for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and Jen for connecting us. We're lucky to have the good people at FSN Bay Area looking out for Warriors Nation.

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