The launch of Fox Sports 1
It began on August 17 at 6:00 am. A new sports network from Fox, Fox Sports 1. Loaded initially with NASCAR Truck Series, UFC fights and soccer, the network will have broad reach given its carriage in 90 Million homes, below ESPN’s total reach of 99 Million homes, but more than NBC Sports carried in 78 Million homes.
As with any sports network, programming is key. Fox Sports 1 will be airing Pac-12 football this fall and the (new) Big East Basketball this winter, solid programming for year one. It also will carry Major League Baseball in 2014.
Fox Sports 1 will offer an 11pm sports program, Fox Sports Live, their version of ESPN’s successful SportsCenter. It will also air Fox Football Daily laden with recently retired football players including Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Ronde Barber (can Tiki sit in and try to fool the viewer?). Regis Philbin will also have a show, The Crowd Goes Wild.
The first evening was a successful one with 1.7 Million primetime viewers to UFC Fight Night with higher ratings for adults 18-49 and men 18-49 than all four broadcast networks. And the initial airing of Fox Sports Live delivered 476,000 viewers, a .2 rating. Not shabby.
Obviously ESPN remains the gorilla in the sports network world, and that will continue. And CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network also vie for the coveted sports fanatic. Yet, Fox Sports 1 believes it can compete more aggressively over time as it acquires more programming.
The sports fanatic has an almost insatiable sports appetite, yet there are only so many hours one can view and more and more options. We’ll be watching the whole industry in the coming months.