Can Fox Sports 1 take on ESPN the way Fox News Channel tackled CNN?
The latest worst-kept secret in media broke wide open today, as Fox Sports today confirmed plans to create a 24/7 competitor to cable TV sports giant ESPN called Fox Sports 1.
The new outlet would take over the Fox-owned channel previously known as the Speed channel, which reaches over 81 million subscribers across the country. Overall, Fox Sports 1 is expected to be available to more than 90 million viewers with nearly 5,000 hours of programming (which Fox says is the biggest sports cable launch in history), scheduled for Aug. 17.
But despite all the talk of its features – including a daily 11 p.m. newscast version of ESPN’s SportsCenter called Fox Sports Live, a daily 6 p.m. version of Fox NFL Sunday called Fox Football Daily with Tampa-raised Erin Andrews and exNFL star Terry Bradshaw, and material from 22 Fox-owned regional sports networks – I’m most interested in the show hosted by one guy.
Known for his support of Notre Dame’s football team, Philbin has been a host without a show since he was edged off the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly (now known as Live with Kelly and Michael, as in Strahan) last year. Now he’s popped up on Fox Sports 1 to host a live, daily 5 p.m. show, Rush Hour, featuring celebrities, fans and sports pros kicking it in New York City.
Philbin confirmed news of this gig – which also had been reported a while ago – during a Monday appearance on The View. That’s hardly a home for Rush Hour’s likely target audience; but Philbin, at age 81, doesn’t seem a likely ambassador to the young males advertisers love and who have turned ESPN into a $6 billion-a-year business.
And Fox has more than sports media self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader" to worry about. Both NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network have bowed in recent months on cable TV, unveiling hyped-up debuts only to struggle for daily viewers and presence.
As I note in this piece for Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center, I wonder if Philbin demonstrates an attempt to hit ESPN where they might be weakest: the entertainment world.
In the same way Fox News beat CNN by redefining cable TV news – from reporting news events to talking about news events in ways conservatives like – is it possible Fox Sports might redefine the sports channel in a way that allows it to compete with the 33-year-old, multiple channel behemoth which is ESPN?
And will we sports media purists like what they come up with when the redefinition is done?
As I write this, Fox Sports is unveiling its plans for Fox Sports 1 before advertisers in New York City.
Click Full Story to see details from Fox Sports' press release outlining the events available on the channel:
COLLEGE BASKETBALL – Dozens of exclusive prime time games on Monday and Thursday nights, plus Saturday and Sunday coverage of the Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL – Led by Notre Dame at Stanford, the Big Ten Championship Game and Pac-12 Championship Game (2014) on FOX, dozens of exclusive, live games from the Pac-12, Big 12 and Conference USA on Thursday nights and Saturdays; triple- and quadruple-headers on Saturdays; Saturday pre- and postgame coverage.
MLB – Beginning in 2014, select League Championship Series and Division Series games; regular-season games over 26 Saturdays; live game-in-progress look-in show.
NASCAR – Select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as soon as 2015; NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; NASCAR Sprint All-Star race; all Speedweeks events leading up to the Daytona 500 including: Daytona 500 Qualifying, Sprint Unlimited at Daytona (2014, 2017-22) and the Budweiser Duel, now in prime time; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NCWTS Practice and Qualifying sessions; NASCAR RaceDay, providing pre- and post-race coverage; NASCAR Victory Lane, a weekly wrap-up show; and Race Hub, a daily mid-day studio show with the latest from drivers, owners and garages.
SOCCER – Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday afternoon coverage of the world’s most prolific club soccer competitions, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, and CONCACAF Champions League featuring many of the world’s greatest and most successful clubs; the world’s oldest soccer competition, the FA Cup; CONCACAF Gold Cup; CONCACAF Qualifiers, FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage in 2015 and 2019; FIFA Men’s World Cup coverage in 2018 and 2022; delayed matches in prime time; weekly magazine and highlights shows.
UFC – Featured on Wednesday nights; live FIGHT NIGHTS through 2014, the first is scheduled for launch night, Saturday, Aug. 17; FOX event preliminary cards; UFC Tonight, the weekly authority for UFC news and information; 14 Saturday pay-per-view preliminary cards; hundreds of hours of library programs and events.