FOX Is Gunning for ESPN

By Vico on March 4, 2013 at 10:30p

Fox Sports 1 is coming:

For Rupert Murdoch, creating a national cable sports network in the United States to compete with ESPN has been his white whale — a tantalizing television opportunity but one of the few fields that his media empire has not conquered.

But two decades after shaking up the sports broadcasting world for the first time by acquiring N.F.L. rights, Murdoch has plans to challenge ESPN head on and claim some of the lucrative revenue that the sports media giant has had largely to itself for more than three decades.

On Tuesday, Fox will announce its intention to start Fox Sports 1, an all-sports network, in August.

The channel will carry Nascar races, Major League Baseball games, college basketball and football, soccer and U.F.C. fights. It will also broadcast studio shows, including one that is to be hosted by Regis Philbin, a celebrated Notre Dame fan.

Not that FOX is perfect with how it handles sports, but ESPN really needs good competition. This is especially true for college football. The success of the project is called a long shot in the New York Times article, given ESPN's position right now. However, the success of the enterprise just may be long term, rather than a long shot.


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toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Good luck to Fox. It will be worth tuning in. Less time for me to read ESPN's crawls for scores and other news. And no Mark May!

bigbadbuck's picture

No Mark May, to me, is worth a watch

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, its a war room

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I am ALL IN!  I bailed on ESPN long ago.  I will definitely support Fox and any other strong competitors to ESPN's near monopoly and sway over sports.

FitzBuck's picture

And we get Erin Andrews back.  Maybe they could team her up with Kate Upton.  Throw Eddie George in the middle and I might never change the channel.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

BuckeyeVet's picture

Dear God, let's hope this takes off and ESPN is no longer the only game in town.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

btalbert25's picture

It's a good idea, but I'll believe it when I see it.  I remember years ago when they tried to do it.  They went out and got Olberman away from ESPN, and it was going to be all the rage.  It then became little more than This week in Baseball and the Best Damn sports show period. Then we were stuck with a bunch of regional fox channels in the aftermath.  
Hope it works, but won't hold my breath to it. 

Ohio State Ombre's picture

as much as i dislike espin, i can not stand fox sports. it is terrible. i watch all of the bluejackets and crew games on fox sports ohio, and the announcers, camera work, and production quality is terrible. they really will need to significantly step up their game to even have a prayer of competing with espn. regardless of what we all say about espn biases, they at least have (some) good color commentary, and they do have great production quality and camera work.

popeurban's picture

they really will need to significantly step up their game to even have a prayer of competing with espn.

Watching the BCS games when FOX had them made me want to shoot myself in the face.
oh and that dancing robot.... Seriously, what is with that stupid thing?

ATXbucknut's picture

Yeah, that robot is flippin dumb.  I actually prefer watching college football on ESPN, except for that Gus Johnson dude. I kind of like him in small doses.

William's picture

Besides their heavy bias, I like Rimer and Davidge as announcers for the CBJ, and while he mauls the English language I still think Austin Carr is a great color commentator for the Cavaliers on Fox Ohio. 

Ohio State Ombre's picture

i agree, they are good announcers, but they get just as excited for a goal from the other team as they do for the cbj. its annoying. and the camera work is terrible, not to mention the picture cuts in and out of almost every game. frustrating

William's picture

Agreed, on the feeds. I don't know what the Hell is going on with Fox Ohio's feeds lately but they've been crappy with cutting in and out. Never had that problem last year from what I remember. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Don't forget, the Cavs are switching to the channel soon-to-be-known as FS Cleveland next season!

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

doodah_man's picture

Agree. As a NASCAR fan, their coverage is sophomoric and at times totally silly. Its is almost a breath of fresh air when TNT and then ESPN take over in July.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

BamBamBuck's picture

And this , I think, is the missing link to the next B1G TV contract, as well as a possible player in Big Ten expansion.


old_rasputin's picture

two words: "Beth Mowins"

"We hate to lose, but when we do, rest assured we'll be back, and someone will pay the price." Coach Hayes

BuckeyeVet's picture

You may very well be on to something there. Delany could be cookin'.....

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

Poison nuts's picture

Agree with Buckeyevet. Definitely think you're onto something.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I was about to post something similar. Say hello to one of the driving forces in college football realignment. Fox is willing to spend big bucks to compete with ESPN and in addition to all the other benefits, get a bigger piece of the college football pie.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

ATXbucknut's picture

It reminds me of Time Warner trying to compete with ESPN with the 24-hour all sports CNN/SI network, which launched in 1996 and then died 6 years later.
It died because Time Warner didn't have enough clout with cable providers at the time and thus it only reached 20 million subscribers.  I wonder if Fox has enough clout to extend Fox Sports 1 from coast to coast. One would assume they do, but I also would have assumed Time Warner did back in '96.

rdubs's picture

Well they could force cable providers to package it with Fox News.  Regardless of what you think of Fox News it has a lot of viewers and that gives them the clout you were talking about.

JollyFatMan's picture

I smell a fail coming.. and it oozes from Fox. 

How firm thy friendship..

prevetbuck's picture

If they have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing most of those MLB games (and I'd bet they will), you can count me out. They're ***** awful.

lamplighter's picture

Stropped watching ESPN shows a while back and leave at halftime when the talking heads come on.  Fox can't be worse, and if they play it right it might be okay
unless they offer MM a contract (Mark May/Mickey Mouse - your choice) 

cplunk's picture

I'm with you. I won't watch ESPN pregame either

carence's picture

I like it, I like it alot! I don't watch ESPN that much anymore since the whole lawsuit thing. It would be nice to see a network take them on. 
I just wish the Oprah Winfrey Network would have been the ones.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Here's the thing: when new firms/organizations attempt to take on the mega-market leaders in an industry, many of them will fail; eventually, though, one of them almost always breaks through and changes the industry.
Prior to that breakthrough, the naysayers point out that firms/organizations A, B, and C failed to challenge firm/organization X; therefore, they predict that firm D will also fail. It's a good prediction, given past trends, etc., but it might very well be wrong.
I have no idea how Fox Sports 1 will fare, but I suspect that the circumstances are much different this time compared to other efforts to challenge espn's supremacy. Three possible factors that might work in favor of Fox:

  • Fox might have learned valuable lessons as a result of its past failure in challenging espn.
  • Espn's market position has never been stronger, but it's also maybe never had more detractors, enemies, market saturation, etc.
  • As others have mentioned: Jim Delany = wildcard?
Hoody Wayes's picture

Good points.
I suspect Murdoch used the FOX/BTN partnership and its mini-BCS deal, to gauge his company's position, regarding the 2014 college football regular season TV contract. With ESPN owning the post-season, I expect FOX to provide regular season broadcasts of B1G/B1G XII and PAC games, from 2014 forward.
CBS will probably expand its regular season coverage of the SEC.
ESPN's regular season broadcast schedule will shrink, considerably.
And then, there's NBC and Notre Dame - stuck between a shrinking ACC and all of this realignment.  

Sean N's picture

Fox Sport 1 is likely to be less "disruptive innovator" and more "mediocre copycat".

Run_Fido_Run's picture

That's simply a restatement of the prediction - I guess we'll see.

syphon2677's picture

lets hope they can pull it off

buckeyedude's picture

Competition is good.



OSUStu's picture

Regis Philbin as a analyst, what more do you need for a successful sports network?

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

SPreston2001's picture

Good news but sadly I dont think they can catch up to ESPN. Everybody associates sports news with ESPN...

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

"It's a good idea but it won't work. Everybody associates cable news with CNN."
- Everyone ever just before Fox News launched

SPreston2001's picture

Ive NEVER watched CNN nor associated it with cable news! Hell I even forget I have CNN! Ive always looked to the local major networks for news...

Denny's picture

A lot of Fox's sports coverage is really dumbed down or chintzy (GLOWING HOCKEY PUCK), and their announcers tend to be bad (though most announcers tend to be bad) so I'm skeptical -- but if it works out that's great. 


toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

The glowing hockey puck died years ago. Get over it.
Don't complain about their announcers. Do you enjoy listening to Pam Ward and Beth Mowins? I don't. And then there's Mark May, the worst of the worst.

Denny's picture

The glowing hockey puck is also an accurate representative distillation of the production value of Fox Sports, so I'll point out how absurd it is when appropriate. Like now!
I can count on one hand the number of announcers that I actually do enjoy, and none of them work for Fox Sports. Some work for ESPN/ABC. Some for TNT. None work for FOX SPROTS. None.


Johnny Ginter's picture

for me it is entirely about their production, and i haaaattteee fox's production on sports. it's pretty much the epitome of the 1990s and they don't seem to understand how to move past that. espn has horrible analysis and only a small portion of their color and play by play guys are any good, but their camerawork, graphics packages, and overall presentation is excellent.

dunno. if fox can significantly change how they present sports without it becoming a pale imitation of espn, they might have something. that's going to require a lot of creativity on their part though

Denny's picture

This is what I wanted to say but actually stated well. Bup^3 yaaaay


Ahh Saturday's picture

Fox sucks at sports, especially college football. But ESPN needs competition. Hopefully something good comes out of this.

bbase22's picture

I'd pay extra on the cable bill to never have to see Mark May or Skip Bayless again.

cplunk's picture

Even if Fox coverage often stinks, we want this. It's the best way to prevent years of four SEC team playoffs. Need another big money voice at the table that isn't hand-in-hand with the SEC (and is hand in hand with BTN).

Doc's picture

Good luck Rupert.  espn is awful to watch.  Their "talent" think they are really special, funny and hip(especially the in studio dweebs).  The only time I watch the four letter is when the Buckeyes are on.  Other than that I watch BTN or Big Bang Theory reruns.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

funky123's picture

Great to hear. Go FOX  Death to ESPiN...

Jelligrim's picture

I hope they do not try to hire Paul Keels away from the Buckeyes.

Buckeyeneer's picture

That guy has a fantastic voice. I feel sorry for fans of other schools whenever I listen to some of the shoddy voices that cover their sports teams.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Jelligrim's picture

Agreed!  I wish he could replace Jeff Brantley as the Reds play by play announcer.  Only in the Ohio State football offseason of course.

BuckeyeChris's picture

Just give me sports and leave the social commentary to ESPN. That would be great.