After a much ballyhooed buildup, Fox introduced sports fans across America to the new channel that it hopes will be “The One” to dethrone ESPN off its perch.
On approximately 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 17th, the motorsports-centric Speed channel (formerly Speedvision) signed off of the air for the last time. Nascar on Fox announcer Mike Joy was the final voice on the air for the network’s final moments as Speed. The first personality on the air for the new Fox Sports One network was Curt Menefee from the NFL on Fox.
Fox now also has its own “Deuce” as well.
In addition to the launch of Fox Sports One, they also launched a complimentary channel called Fox Sports Two in the place of Fuel TV. This was a channel that was becoming primarily UFC/MMA centric as the popularity of that sport has only grown exponentially over the past few years. While everyone knew about “The One”, FS2 was, more or less, kept under wraps.
Fox still maintains one sports channel apart from FS1 and FS2—the Fox Soccer Channel. That is expected to change as Fox Soccer will be format-changed into “FXX”, a younger, male-centric version of the movie channel FX. Fox Soccer’s programming will likely become split between “The One” and “The Two”.
Already, the channel is receiving plenty of attention for its flagship shows. This includes Fox Sports Live which nightly features Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. They were the former duo of TSN’s SportsCentre that became famous for, among other things, delivering a more comedic and entertaining flair to a nightly sports highlights show, which looks to be one of Fox Sports One’s goals. When news of their departure from TSN became national news across Canada, even the country’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, was aware.
The first hour of the nightly “Fox Sports Live” show features former SportsNation host Charissa Thompson and a panel of analysts. Among them are Gary Payton and Donovan McNabb.
Other programs include “Crowd Goes Wild” hosted by Regis Philbin (of all people), Fox Soccer Daily, and Fox Football Daily. Some former Nascar programs on Speed were able to make the cut over to Fox Sports One.
The network received strong ratings for some of its opening programming. According to reports, it received almost 1.8 million viewers for its opening UFC fights and those ratings carried over into Fox Sports Live.
In its opening promos, it indicated that it will be a network that will be centric on the sports it has the rights too. 2014 will be the year where both of the networks become heavy on play by play coverage, including MLB, NFL, Nascar, college football, and soccer coverage. 2015 will also be huge for both networks since Fox owns the rights to the Women’s World Cup in Canada. After Team USA came up short in the last Women’s World Cup, plenty of eyes will be peeled North of the Border to see if the Women’s National Team can prevail again.
The channel’s success will likely be predicated on how different its sports coverage will be different from ESPN’s. It will certainly win over UFC and Nascar fans since Fox mentions those sports more than ESPN does. Also, fans who seem to have tired of Bristol’s monotony and predictable topics will more than likely embrace “The One” as well.
America’s Big Four television conglomerates now all have 24/7 national television and radio channels. All four are strong on the radio side, but ESPN, NBC, and Fox seem to be particularly potent on the television end of things. CBS has a television channel as well, but has little notable programming of note outside of Jim Rome and Doug Gottlieb’s shows.
What Fox Sports One and Two has to do is establish itself as a 24/7 sports network that is different from ESPN. We get news instantly in 2013, and fans’ access to sports news and the personalities that make them has never been greater. If it can mesh together its play-by-play rights, reporting on the latest sports news, analysis, and personality in a format that distinguishes itself as channels not following the ESPN blueprint, these channels can make noise in the realm of sports media.
It already has the play-by-play and the personality parts of their recipe up to par. Now, it needs time to establish itself as a credible and entertaining source of sports content for the fan. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
Neither was Bristol. And neither will Westwood.
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