Fox: Our sports network bows in August
Fox Sports 1 will carry many of the same sports as parent
March 6, 2013
Fox has finally confirmed the worst-kept secret in television.
It is launching a new sports network this summer, which will be available in 90 million households, making it the biggest sports cable premiere ever.
In fact, Fox Sports 1 will be one of the largest network launches ever.
It will bow on Aug. 17 and will include 5,000 hours of live event coverage, news and original programming each year. It is taking the place of Speed, the racing-focused network that is in 81 million households.
Randy Freer and Eric Shanks will be co-presidents and co-chief operating officers of the new effort.
Fox Sports Media Group has been coy about challenging ESPN, the longtime dominant sports network, and for good reason.
While there are many other sports networks, including the CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network as well as channels owned by individual conferences and pro leagues such as Big Ten Network and NFL Network, they draw a fraction of the audience of ESPN.
ESPN has the viewership and the sports packages, with rights to every major sport save hockey and special events like the Bowl Championship Series and Wimbledon.
But FS1 will certainly bring an impressive roster. It arguably has a better chance than any of the current sports nets, including the CBS and NBC channels, to draw eyeballs from ESPN.
FS1 has been built on seven core partnerships: Major League Baseball, college football, college basketball, NASCAR, NFL, UFC and soccer.
Fox has rights to all of them, and it’s expected to get as many of those events on the air as it can to help propel the channel at launch.
The first day of programming, for example, will include a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and a UFC event.
In 2014, when Fox’s latest MLB deal kicks in, FS1 will get rights to regular-season as well as post-season games.
And FS1 will launch a daily football news show in January in conjunction with Fox carrying the 2014 Super Bowl.
Indeed, Fox has been squirreling away rights deals with an eye to launching the network. The company has rights to the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cup, which will air games on FS1.
FS1 executives said today that they hope to gain NBA rights in the future and will bid if the NFL puts together another weeknight package of games.
FS1 will air a nightly live talk show, “Rush Hour,” hosted by Regis Philbin, at 5 p.m. “Fox Football Daily” will follow at 6 p.m. each weekday, an extension of the popular “Fox NFL Sunday.”
FSMG refused to comment today on speculation that it is also readying a second sports channel, Fox Sports 2, which would take the place of Fuel, another FSMG property.
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