28 March 2012

Is FOX looking to create an all-sports network?

The big news in the world of sports was a report by Bloomberg saying that News Corporation, the parent company of FOX, was looking to start an all-sports cable network to compete with ESPN. This is similar to to what NBC is trying to do with NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus, and to a lesser extent what CBS is trying to do with CBS Sports Network, formerly CBS College Sports. The Bloomberg report speculated that FOX would turn Fuel TV, which covers action-sports and has started to show some UFC action, into their sports network while John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported that the plan is to flip SPEED, which is in more than 50 million more homes.

FOX has tried to compete with ESPN before by having some national sports programming on their fleet of regional sports networks but that ended up fizzling due to local preemptions. But thanks to the deep pockets of News Corporation as well as a strong stable of sports programming in house for this new sports network to utilize, such as the recent acquisition of a large stable of football and basketball with the Pac-12 Conference, a budding deal to bring in more Big 12 football as well as the recent deals with the UFC and to grab the rights to the 2018 and 2012 Fifa World Cups, as well as upcoming expiring rights with the MLB and NASCAR, both of which FOX has rights to. This already puts a FOX sports network in stronger initial position than NBC Sports Network, which only had hockey and some college football and basketball. FX has seen a resurgence in its sports coverage and its possible FOX Sports used that as a test.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, nothing will happen this year. But down the road, FOX may be the right network to take on ESPN.

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