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SmashMouth 03-06-2013 09:35 AM

Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
Fox, in Tuesday announcing a Fox Sports 1 sports cable channel launching Aug 17, is mounting what executives say will be a direct challenge to ESPN.

"Our hope is that we can be equally professional" with ESPN, says David Hill, who headed Fox Sports when it launched 20 years ago and is overseeing the new channel. "It's going to take us a while. We're not expecting to knock ESPN off in the first week or two. It's going to take two to three years. It will be a slog."

FS1 will debut in about 90 million TV households compared to about 99 million on ESPN and ESPN2. It will have a daily 11 p.m. ET Fox Sports Live show meant to directly challenge ESPN's SportsCenter. Hill, noting that head-to-head competition said, "The quality of sports journalism on ESPN is world-class. It's not going to be easy. But we'll give it a shot."

In a news briefing, as well as a glitzy show for advertisers, Fox repeatedly stressed it had successfully launched a broadcast network in the 1980s and a cable news channel in the 1990s when conventional wisdom supposedly said there wasn't room for newcomers.

But Fox execs conveniently left out its failed attempt in the 1990s to create ational TV sports programming, led on-air by then-ESPN refugee Keith Olbermann. And the analogy to the news channel isn't necessarily relevant. Unlike sports, where locking up TV rights to big events is the norm, everything in news is up for grabs. Fox News didn't have to, say, worry about long-term TV rights to the White House being already locked-up.

By contrast, ESPN has locked up plenty of big-time TV rights, including Monday Night Football and college football's championship game.

But ESPN vs. FS1 won't exactly be David vs. Goliath. Fox, through new or renewed deals for MLB, NASCAR, college football and basketball, UFC and other sports, says 55% of FS1's programming, including studio shows, will be live compared to 73% on ESPN.

There was some muted cockiness in the air at the announcement.

"ESPN, quite frankly, is a machine," says Fox Sports programmer Billy Wanger. "We're trying to take on the establishment, no different than what Fox broadcast did in launching in the 1980s and Fox News did in the 1990s. We're going to have to scratch and claw (against ESPN). But we have no illusions."

In response to Fox's announcement, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys says, "We like our position. We've always had vigorous competition so there is really nothing substantially new here. Others are beginning to recognize what we've long known the power of live sports."

FS1 will represent the latest in the long migration of marquee sports from broadcast TV to cable/satellite.

Starting in 2014, FS1 will carry regular-season MLB games for 26 weeks but the Fox broadcast network will go from its 26-week schedule to just 12 regular-season game broadcast windows. Fox also says an unspecified number of its MLB postseason games, in divisional and LCS play, will migrate from Fox to FS1, as will an unspecified number of NASCAR Sprint Cup races and UFC mixed-martial arts events.

Fox is closing in on a deal for the TV basketball rights for the Catholic colleges, including Georgetown and Marquette, that are leaving the Big East but likely will keep the conference name. But the deal wasn't announced Tuesday.

"We applaud the schools for taking hold of their own destiny," says Fox Sports co-president Randy Freer. "Those are iconic basketball brands and will be one of the top basketball leagues in the country. Hopefully, it will get wrapped up in the near future."

And, says Fox Sports co-president Eric Shanks, "The rights we acquire will be a beast. Get the joke?"

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hagan714 03-06-2013 09:36 AM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
nice take ESPN down

TheOak 03-06-2013 09:39 AM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
Down with Disney!

Danno 03-06-2013 09:47 AM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
Competition is good. It will force ESPN improve.

lee909 03-06-2013 10:08 AM

ESPN has just about collapsed in the uk.Its list the contract to both the NFL(Monday night) and the English premier league this year.Just about to be bought.The station is still running for now.

FinSaint 03-06-2013 10:12 AM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
I'm just worried about this quote:

Quote:

Our hope is that we can be equally professional with ESPN

I think they are selling themselves short with that type of an attitude.

TheOak 03-06-2013 10:50 AM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
FOX Super Bowl? Heh... that's going to lower viewership to 48% of the country.

saintsfan1976 03-06-2013 12:09 PM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TheOak (Post 483873)
FOX Super Bowl? Heh... that's going to lower viewership to 48% of the country.

You counting electoral votes? :p

Seer1 03-06-2013 12:20 PM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
Great! Now we'll have two companies making **** up about sports to sell commercial time.

I "report," you decide!

Rugby Saint II 03-06-2013 01:07 PM

Re: Fox Sports launches direct challenge to ESPN dominance
 
I hope they don't bow to Der Kommisar.
I also hope that they have better business ethics than Fox Noise.


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