Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

Sports TV News

Horowitz Expected In At FS1

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

In 2013, there was a tremendous piece in the New Yorker by Kelefa Sanneh about the cable news TV networks trying to figure out what the audience really wants. Fox News, which arrived to the cable news scene 16 years after CNN, quickly understood one key to reeling in viewers – strong opinion – and it didn’t take long for the network to surpass CNN in the ratings game. From the New Yorker piece:

On Fox, the anchors and commentators can seem like protagonists, doing battle with the “pinheads”—one of O’Reilly’s favorite terms—who just don’t get it. This battle needn’t be explicitly ideological: the network has always had a weakness for titillating legal stories and for celebrity misbehavior. But if the CNN approach emphasizes reporters chasing news around the world, the Fox News approach suggests that the real news is being made right in the studio, by the hosts themselves.

In sports, live events dominate nighttime programming. But over the last decade, ESPN began to generate controversy – and ratings and revenue – on ESPN2 thanks to the opinion of its studio hosts. By almost any metric you choose, a ranking of sports cable TV destinations for studio programming goes ESPN, ESPN2 and the trio of CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 lumped together in spots 3-5.

But, roughly 20 months after its debut, Fox Sports 1 appears to be on the verge of a significant breakthrough: Making bold, controversial hires that signal the network could be moving in a different direction.

Over the weekend, Fox hired combative, polarizing MLB legend Pete Rose to be a baseball analyst. Rose came out of the womb ornery, and at the spry age of 74, he instantly rises to the top of MLB analysts you want to hear from (even though his sartorial selection leaves something to be desired). Fewer advanced stats and more blunt honesty? Yes, please. No filter and never speaking with a thought of what the always-angry twitter mob might say? Check.

Rose appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.

If sources at ESPN and Fox Sports are correct, FS1 will announce in the coming days that it is hiring Jamie Horowitz – yes, the showrunner who brought Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless together on ESPN’s successful and loathed First Take – to preside in some capacity over sports . The sides have been speaking since January, an offer was presented a month ago, and barring a major surprise, Horowitz is headed to LA.

I discussed this on my radio show earlier this month with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch (audio here, Apr. 12, 38 minute mark), and we both agree: If FS1 hires Horowitz, other dominoes could fall in the coming months that might have the network looking completely different in 2016.

Much has been written about Horowitz – following a quick exit from the Today Show, he was savaged in this Vanity Fair piece about Brian Williams – but his track record at ESPN was impressive: Created SportsNation (which the internet briefly loved!), was the only producer willing to take on Keith Olbermann upon his return to the network (another Horowitz show the internet loved!), “finding” Michelle Beadle and Charissa Thompson, and most importantly, his willingness to take embrace debate and create controversy.

And on that note, let’s hear from CNN’s Jeff Zucker, who had a memorable quote in this must-read on CNN anchor Don Lemon:

“There’s certainly a lot of interest in Don Lemon, and that’s a good thing for Don and for CNN. You know, Don is a little bit of a lightning rod. Frankly, we needed a little bit of lightning.”

And that’s what FS1 lacks, a lightning rod. Rose is a start, but if you have spent any time watching the debate shows on ESPN, you’ll see baseball isn’t a sport that is as conducive to the format as the NBA and NFL. Horowitz would begin to take the network down that road. Does FS1 want to merely exist, or does it want to pull away from CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network and make a run at ESPN2?

Plausible scenario: Horowitz brings over Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd – whose contracts are up in the next 10 months – and starts stirring the debate pot. In two hires, Fox could take away ESPN’s #2 radio draw (based on revenue) and potentially put an end to First Take – another lucrative show – because Stephen A. Smith has said to more than a few people at ESPN he wouldn’t do the show without Skip.

In 2013, ESPN President John Skipper made several bold moves – hiring Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock, in addition to stealing Nate Silver’s site from the New York Times and giving Dan LeBatard (controversial!) a TV show and prime radio real estate.

And if Horowitz really wanted to generate headlines, what if he did something like: Instead of putting debate on in the morning, why not at 6 pm, opposite ESPN’s signature brand, Sportscenter? Or how about shaking up Fox Sports Live by changing the format to a debate show and doing away with the highlights that everyone’s already seen online?

To take it a step further – FS1 brings in a few more rabble-rousers to appeal to millennials, starts to make use of its bevy of newsbreakers – like Jay Glazer, Mike Garafolo – and go after ESPN’s mid-day shows?

It took 20 months, but Fox Sports 1 appears to be on the verge of making some smart, bold moves.

Credit to The Big Lead who originally published this article

Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

Published

on

blank

ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

Continue Reading

Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

Published

on

NFL

The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

Continue Reading

Sports TV News

DirecTV Accuses FOX Sports Of ‘Scare Tactics’ As Contract Expiration Looms

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

Jordan Bondurant

Published

on

blank

Cable and satellite TV subscribers should by now be accustomed to threats of seeing some channels disappear from their lineup due to contract disputes. The warnings by FOX Sports to viewers on DirecTV are no different, but the nation’s largest satellite provider isn’t appreciative of efforts by the network to make viewers aware.

FOX is currently coming up on the end of its current contract with DirecTV. With no new agreement between the two sides in place right now, FOX network, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network and FOX-owned local affiliates will be blacked out to viewers at 3 a.m. on December 2.

As is customary with these sorts of situations, FOX has instituted a crawl on the above networks making viewers aware that they could soon see the channels gone and encouraging them to tell DirecTV not to let these channels go.

For sports fans, blackouts could be massively disruptive for football fans and soccer fans. The World Cup is currently airing on FOX and FS1,while the NFL and college football also occupy time on those same channels.

Still, DirecTV has accused FOX of utilizing the crawl to use “the same old, tired programmer scare tactics,” according to a statement to Deadline.

Earlier in the fall, ESPN and Dish were in a similar situation. The negotiation deadline passed, and viewers, college football fans in particular, were unable to catch any games on TV for a day.

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.