In a bold move, Fox is prepared to launch an all-sports network to compete with ESPN, according to the New York Times.
Rupert Murdoch reportedly plans to start up Fox Sports 1 in August in hopes of stealing some revenue from ESPN, as well as other networks that carry live sports such as NBC and CBS.
UPDATE: Friday, March 8, at 5:50 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The proposed new Fox Sports 1 network is continuing to lay out ambitious plans for its programming agenda. Fox has already made inroads into the college football world, and it plans to continue that trend with the new channel, as Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reported via Twitter:
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UPDATE: Tuesday, March 5, at 3:20 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
Fox Sports Media Group has officially unveiled plans for "Fox Sports 1", a television network that will reportedly rival ESPN and make a major push in households everywhere.
According to an announcement made Tuesday on Fox Sports' official website, FS1 is set to debut on Aug. 17. Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
Set to debut on Saturday, Aug. 17, just as FOX Sports kicks-off its 20th anniversary year, FS1 is available in over 90 million homes, making this the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever. At the outset, FS1 boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.
For a complete list of the programs, changes and big names associated with the network, be sure to click on the link above.
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The channel will broadcast NASCAR, Major League Baseball, college football and basketball, UFC fights and soccer, according to the report. There will also be studio shows on the channel, with Regis Philbin slated to host one of them.
ESPN brings in more than $6 billion in subscriber fees each year. In that sense, it's quite the venture to try and compete with the sports media giant. The network broadcasts Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL, as well as niche sports like NASCAR and tennis.
NBC and CBS have had a hard time keeping up with ESPN, so it will be interesting to see if Fox can stir things up and put some heat on the long-standing network.
The report also notes that Fox Sports 1 will most likely charge significantly less money to cable, satellite and telephone companies for subscribers. This, in turn, could increase the value of latching onto Fox Sports 1 if the product is deemed worthy.
“We view Fox as a formidable competitor,” John Skipper, ESPN’s president, told the Times. “They’ve got the resources of News Corp., and the willingness that Fox has shown in the past to take big bets and to create a difference.”
He added: “We like our hand. We just have to play it well.”
Will the product match the hype? We will just have to wait and see.