Cable Operators

Meet the Mets Net’s Boss

4/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Since 2008, Steve Raab has been president of SportsNet New York, the
regional sports network home to the New York Mets, owned by club-affiliated
Sterling Entertainment Enterprises, Time Warner Cable and NBCUniversal.
He succeeded Jon Litner, who now runs the regional sports network and golf
businesses for Comcast/NBCU . He spoke recently with Multichannel News
online news editor Mike Reynolds about SNY’s development and what the future holds.

Multichannel News: You’ve
been here five years now. Have
your expectations played out?

Steve Raab: There’s an evolution
of an RSN, to some
degree of maturity. After six
years, the programming on
the RSN should be right, operating
at the right expense
levels, the talent has developed and
matured. There have been programming
improvements. The team is in a
very different place than a few years
ago. There have been changes. There
has been media skepticism about the
level of objectivity. If there were ever an
ownership group that might have wanted
to backpedal …
[but] here has never
been a word. That’s
pretty amazing.

MCN: Viewers, for
the most part, have
stayed with the
Mets?

SR: Certainly during
the first half
of the season, the core fans are there.
However the second half sizes up, certain
core fans stick around and some
fall off . If you step up, some join on.

MCN: What about the other programming?

SR: Initially, we were happy to be the
home of the Jets, we did the requisite
amount of shoulder programming.
But over time, our goal was to provide
a closer look at the Jets. We certainly
were the first to get cameras in closeddoor
lockers.

MCN: I watched Tim Tebow’s introductory
press conference on SNY. Can he
fill 20 hours a week?

SR: (Laughs.) What if Tim Tebow is
the backup quarterback? If he’s not the
[starting] quarterback, I’m not quite
sure what the Tim Tebow Show is. Now,
the Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow Show
could be pretty interesting.

MCN: Dish Network doesn’t
carry any New York-area RSNs.
Any chance of getting back on
Dish’s air?

SR: Dish never carried YES.
Th ey stopped carrying MSG, before
our deal was up [last year].
We thought we provided value
to Dish, particularly considering
that in our 9 million-home territory, a lot
of Dish homes are outside the New York
DMA. If they don’t want to be in sports in
this market, I’m not sure what we can do.

MCN: How are ad sales , given many don’t
have high expectations for the Mets?

SR: One of our first markers is by Opening
Day, that we
want to be at 70% to
80% of our ad sales
goal. We’ll be there
and be at the high
end of that range.

MCN: Are you
looking for a good
2012 season for
the Mets?

SR: I’m certainly not prepared to throw
in the towel. I think that on the optimistic
side, Johan Santana comes back. Jon
Niese is better than what’s he been and
has a good year. Third starter R.A. Dickey
will do well. If Dillon Gee is the fourth
starter, that’s OK. Mike Pelfrey? We’ll see.
Their bullpen is improved. First baseman
Ike Davis, who missed most of last season,
is back. We can put a wager on it. Davis
and [rightfielder] Lucas Duda will hit
more than 40 home runs between them.
Win or lose, though, I’ll take our broadcast
team any day. They’re engaging, entertaining.
They will educate you in some
way, give you something interesting. I’ll
put them up against anybody.

September