2013 Fox Sports Media Group Upfront After PartyOn Tuesday afternoon, it was announced to the surprise of no one that FOX Sports Media Group will launch a new national sports network in the United States called Fox Sports 1. As the embedded quote in the news release from FSMG Co-President Eric Shanks indicates, the network has been introduced with the purpose of eventually competing with ESPN.

Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game  experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.

The order in which Shanks lists the network’s content is not an accident. Live sports has increasingly become the only reliable source of appointment viewing for television networks scrambling to compete in a shifting environment where technology, seen most notably through online and DVR viewing, has left executives to scrap their tired business models from the past.

FS1, as one of the largest channel launches in television history thanks to its replacing the already established SPEED network, will immediately supplant NBC Sports Network as America’s second largest national sports network with estimated availability in 90 million homes. However, despite an ability to offer live Major League Baseball, NASCAR, college football and basketball, soccer from Europe, the UFC and other events, there are no delusions of grandeur among those in charge.

News Corp. Sr. Vice President David Hill believes that it will take multiple years before the new network is a viable competitor to ESPN. Before that day comes, it seems as though ESPN and FOX are content to work together to shut out the competition offered by NBC and to a lesser extent, given their small share of the market, CBS Sports.

While competing with the stranglehold of a sports network that has almost associated its brand with sports itself will not be an easy task, one has to imagine that the network’s existing distribution base combined with the live content rights it already holds puts FS1 in a better place to succeed than any previous startup. We also shouldn’t forget how FOX has been able to implement  its content and increase its competitiveness on network television and in cable news. Trying new things is the key to penetrating markets that appear saturated, and FOX has a record of success when it comes to television innovation.

However, with the speed at which technology evolves, especially as it pertains to entertainment, that innovation in a medium that is quickly appearing dated will be put to the test. Imagining a multiple year plan for increasing television competitiveness could possibly be overshooting the medium’s shelf life, at least as far as the importance of broadcasting live sports goes.

At least they’ll have Regis.

It is not yet clear whether FS1 or FS2, which will replace FuelTV, will be available in Canada. The CRTC, a regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications in the country had previously authorized SPEED to be carried by cable and satellite providers. However, such a licence for broadcast can be revoked due to a format change, especially when the new format means a foreign channel will be directly competing with a domestic one, as would be the case with FS1′s relationship to TSN and Rogers Sportsnet. Even if FS1 and FS2 become available in Canada, rights for many of the live events the networks intend on broadcasting have already been sold to Canadian interests.

Comments (12)

  1. If we do get Fox Sports 1 up here, it’ll be only good for their alternative programming. 99% of live events will be blacked out.

  2. I’m pretty sure that’s what Parkes is saying with the last sentence.

  3. Does Fox have a relationship with TSN? I always felt their relationship was with Sportsnet and ESPN had a relationship with TSN.

    • ESPN and TSN have some sort of partnership in place, but it only applies to original programming outside of live sporting events. FOX doesn’t have that relationship with any Canadian entity.

      • You’re probably right legally, but the relationships are there and the combatants are moving their pieces into place.

        Keith Law and Dan Schulman no longer appear on the Fan590 and JP Morosi and Kenny Ken Rosenthal have taken their place.

        That’s just baseball, and neither network needs U.S. assets for hockey, but are we going to see Rogers tapping Fox for resources for NFL football? We know TSN utilizes Adam Schefter and Jesse Palmer.

        Wll Rogers start to use Fox resources for the NCAA tournament since Dan went over to TSN?

        Fox vs. ESPN somewhat mirrors Rogers vs. TSN. Makes sense to lower production costs where possible for both companies.

  4. …and just like ESPN the hockey coverage will be non-existant

    • why do you care about an american networks hockey coverage? we get more than enough through our canadian networks, and throw in the NBC stuff and you get hockey every night of the week.

      i wish people would shut the fuck up about hockey.

      • Of all the things lacking in Canadian sports media, I don’t think of hockey as being one of them.

        • a little more eloquent than me… thanks parkes.

          i’m preemptively fired up for the time when an extra inning Jays game is switched over to a breaking news edition of hockeycentral because some 4th liner got a contract offer.

          • I could see that happening on TSN, but not Rogers. They’ve invested too much in the “Windows Restaurant” upgrade.

          • Actually, hockey has helped dig its own grave in the U.S. with its broadcast agreement with NBC Sports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *