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A Conversation with Henry Ford, General Manager and Senior Vice President at Fox Sports San Diego

We got the chance to interview Henry Ford, Senior Vice President and General at Fox Sports San Diego.

If you've been living under a rock that only gets Time Warner Cable or ATT U-Verse, then you may know that Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable (and ATT U-Verse) in San Diego are in the middle of what seems to be an impasse. Basically, FSSD is being carried on Cox and Direct TV, and Time Warner Cable is not carrying the station, complaining that the price being asked is too high.

Me? I get Cox.

Nevertheless, we had a chat with Henry Ford earlier this week about what he's being faced with. My only recording implement? My handy pen and notepad. Therefore, no direct quotes in here, but I'll summarize for you what we have learned...

The Fox Sports Net and Time Warner Cable Relationship
Operationally, Henry says that he gets along just fine with the TWC people. The negotiations are being handled at a level beyond him, but, having worked in the past as the GM for Fox Sports Ohio, he's had working relationships with TWC folks in the past that have been just fine. At this point, in the San Diego market specifically, he speculates that part of the issue with the negotiations is coming down to personalities in conflict.

Jeff Moorad
I asked specifically about Jeff Moorad. When last we'd heard of Jeff Moorad, he was going to retain a Vice Chair position and focus on the negotiations with Fox Sports San Diego to get the TV deal in place. I wondered if he stayed on to help with TWC negotiations considering the Padres have a stake in the Regional Sports Network (RSN).

Henry very plainly said that Jeff Moorad has had nothing to do with the FSSD/TWC dispute and is effectively not in the picture.

On Direct TV
There's been some speculation that FSSD is cutting different deals for Direct TV and Cox and should be able to cut a different deal for TWC. This is due to Direct TV not carrying all of the FSSD programming and only showing Padres games. Henry says that the deal is the same for both Cox and Direct TV. In Direct TV's case it's a matter of bandwidth and technology. They just aren't in the position, from a technical standpoint, to carry and produce all of the content that Cox is taking advantage of. Once they're ready to do so, Henry says that they will with no change in the contract.

When will things be squared away?
There are a few things keeping the deal from getting done.

First, the Padres aren't very good and TWC apparently doesn't feel any rush to bring them on board.

Second, there isn't any public outcry (see point one). JBox brought up the good point that many people don't have the option of switching to anything so there's very little in the way of threats, but Henry says that there just aren't enough fans even asking for the Padres to be carried. I take that to mean, keep asking, and if you're a fan who doesn't care to watch the Padres, don't be so vocal about it. I'm sure TWC is looking at the numbers saying, "For every fan that wants the Padres, we see two people in message boards saying they're never going to watch the Padres again." So for you abandoners: STFU (my words, not Henry's).

ATT U-Verse? Things look promising, but probably not in time for this season.

Incidentally, at his house, Henry subscribes to both cable and Direct TV. He lives in a Time Warner Cable area (like our Mentor, Tom Garfinkel).

Goals for FSSD
Henry talked to us at length about his goals for the station. I asked about his other responsibilities considering he's a Senior VP of Fox Sports Net and General Manager of FSSD. He said that he has a few obligations left at FS Ohio as his successor is settling in.

He said that the move to San Diego was one that he jumped at, noting that people in his line of work don't typically get to start a RSN from scratch, which was very appealing to him. He outlined several goals for us:

Engage with the fans
He said part of the reason the FSSD stage is in the park is because he wanted the broadcast to be something the fans could interact with. I don't know if I heard him right, but he said security around the stage is pretty much to make sure that people don't steal anything or deface it. Apparently, we're welcome to come right up to the stage. Next time I'm at a game, I'm gonna get behind the desk and take a photo with Pomeranz.

Educate the fans
He sees Pick the Stick and the Instructionals as being a really integral part of the broadcast. He was also very enthusiastic about the fact that they brought in Sweeney to help with the broadcast.

Community focus
He said a long term goal is to be very interactive with the community. We asked for specifics, but he couldn't go into many details. He just really wants FSSD to be a San Diego product and not be too national. He told us that a primary goal of his is to carry the most local programming of all of the RSNs that Fox Sports Net operates.


tl;dr? Too bad, because part two is coming soon.

[UPDATE] I fixed Henry's title, which was a little unwieldy and mispoke when I said that FSSD carries the most local programming. It's only a goal and not a current state.