05 March 2013

Breaking down the new FOX Sports 1

The worst kept secret in television since NBC tried to oust Ann Curry from Today is now official as today in New York, the FOX Sports Media Group announced their new sports network, FOX Sports 1. SPEED will relaunch as FS1 on August 17 of this year and will debut in around 90 million homes (although that number could change once FOX negotiates with the cable providers). We have seen others try to launch competitors to ESPN, most notably with NBC and the NBC Sports Network and to a lesser extent CBS and CBS Sports Network, but will FS1 be any different?

Unlike NBCSN and certainly CBSSN, FOX Sports 1 debuts with a pretty solid programming base, thanks to aggressive FOX acquisitions in recent years. FS1 will keep all of SPEED's NASCAR programming including the Sprint All-Star Race, the Camping World Truck Series, Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions, NASCAR Raceday, NASCAR Victory Lane, RaceHub and will air every event of Speedweeks at Daytona, including adding the Sprint Unlimited and Daytona 500 qualifying, which both were on FOX. FS1 will also air college football from the Pac-12, Big XII and Conference USA on Thursday nights and all-day Saturdays, and will have a solid amount of college hoops with weekend coverage of the Pac-12, Big XII and C-USA as well as coverage of the new Big East on Monday and Thursday nights. Wednesday nights will feature the UFC and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons will feature a variety of international soccer matches. The big events that you will see on FS1 will be coverage of the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 and most notable live MLB coverage over 26 Saturdays as well as extended postseason coverage.

FOX Sports 1 will also have some original programming, led by the rumored show helmed by Regis Philbin, Rush Hour, a new NFL show considered to be an extension of FOX NFL Sunday in FOX Football Daily, featuring the same cast of characters, as well as a direct competitor to SportsCenter in FOX Sports Live that will provide hourly updates and air an evening edition at 11. The network is expected to launch a morning show during FOX's coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII and will air a documentary series called Being.

For a brand new network, this is all pretty impressive but the network better not expect to compete directly with ESPN initially. And the folks at FOX know this, expecting a couple years of losses and with discussions with cable companies about coverage at the network's initial asking price of $1 per subscriber. Plus, as the company has worked with ESPN before to share packages, the "Worldwide Leader" probably do not view them as much of a competitor for now. That said, this does look to be the strongest ESPN competitor yet and should leave the folks over at NBC a little nervous.

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