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Fox Sports 1 Gains Ground On ESPN

Jason Barrett

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As the cliché goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For 24/7/365 sports channel FOX Sports 1, the climb to catch ESPN won’t be either, but there are clear signs there is progress being made.

FOX Sports 1 launched in August of 2013 with just a handful of programming options. UFC, NASCAR Trucks, Pac-12 and Big 12 college football and Big East college basketball were the slate on top of studio programming. Trying to go at ESPN with just those offerings was said to be like a restaurant opening with only a portion of its menu available.

In FS1’s second year they added regular and postseason Major League Baseball, the NASCAR Xfinity series and three Sprint Cup races, Gold Cup soccer, Women’s World Cup and USGA events including the US Open to the schedule. In doing so, the total number of sporting events being aired by FS1 rose 17 percent, going from 664 in Year 1 to 779 in Year 2.

That has helped FOX Sports 1 grow in the ratings. FS1 saw an increase 40 percent on total day viewership and 38 percent increase in prime time during the span.  Over the same span, the competition dropped. ESPN was down 9 percent for total day, and down 2 percent in prime time viewership, ESPN2  was down -3%/-12% while, NBCSN  came in at -19%/+2%.

For live programming, the results are more impressive. FS1 is up 54 percent over the same span (494,000 viewers vs. 390,000 viewers), and has surpassed ESPN2 and NBCSN to become the clear #2 network for live events behind The Worldwide Leader.

To add, FOX Sports 1’s reach, which is people watching at any point over the last year, is up 11 percent or 9.2 million viewers in FS1’s second year (96 million total viewers vs. 86.8 million).  Meanwhile ESPN’s reach is down 8.9 million (down 5 percent), ESPN2 is down 8.7 million (-6%), and NBCSN is down 6.1 million (-7%) when excluding the Olympics.

The October 15th Game 4 of the NLCS between the Cardinals-Giants posted a FS1-record 5.092 million viewers, breaking the 5 million viewer mark for the first time.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup games on FS1 were winners. The USA-Colombia FIFA WWC Round of 16 match set a new record for men’s or women’s soccer (4.716 million), and is No. 3 on FS1’s all-time list.

The first-ever regularly scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race on FOX Sports 1 set a new record for a motorsports event on FS1, drawing 4.061million viewers which ranked at No. 5 on FS1’s all-time list.

So, is FS1 at a point where they can say they are at or better than ESPN? No. But, as a fledgling network goes, if FOX Sports 1 continues to grow at the pace it has, it should catch ESPN in a few short years. That should make ESPN look over their shoulder, and give FOX Sports added incentive to provide good programming to allow them to compete in not only Year 3 of FS1, but beyond.

Credit to Forbes who originally published this article

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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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

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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.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

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

Jordan Bondurant

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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.

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