Fox Sports 1 turned 2 years old Monday. The higher-ups at Fox Sports consider it a happy birthday.
Although there have been bumps along the way – typical for any new network – FS1 viewership was up significantly in Year 2. The driving force behind that increase: more and better live events, including the Women’s World Cup and the men’s U.S. Open.
“When we launched the network, we were a little bit like a restaurant that opens up and is only able to serve half the menu,” Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports senior vice president of programming and research, said in a Q&A with Cablefax. “The second year, we’re finally able to serve the full menu, and I think we’re a lot closer to what we envisioned ourselves being from the beginning.”
Ah, yes. The beginning. Fox heavily promoted FS1’s launch, emphasizing its supposedly superior sense of “fun” and hailing it as a legitimate rival to ESPN. Privately, Fox executives knew it would take years to rise to that level in terms of audience and awareness – and FS1 is still a long way from getting there, if it ever does.
That aggressive marketing campaign created unrealistic expectations. It was typical boldness for Fox, however, and as one network insider phrased it, it put FS1 “in the conversation with the heavyweight champion” – i.e., ESPN.
In reality, it would take FS1 considerable time to forge its identity. ESPN looks nothing like the fledgling network that launched 36 years ago, and FS1 already has undergone numerous, significant changes.
Remember when Regis Philbin was a centerpiece of FS1’s daytime lineup? And “Fox Sports Live” featured that mismatched discussion panel? That’s several iterations ago now. FS1 is about to make the outspoken Colin Cowherd, late of ESPN, its new daytime star, simulcasting his relaunched radio show, “The Herd,” from 9 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday.
(Cowherd’s show will be heard locally on KLAC/570, pushing “L.A. Today” with Bill Reiter and Leeann Tweeden to the noon-3 p.m. slot in place of “Jay Mohr Sports.”)
Luring Cowherd was the first big move by executive Jamie Horowitz, who also came from ESPN. If you can’t beat ’em … hire ’em?
Other changes include consolidating Fox Sports’ cable and digital news operations, resulting in layoffs. That sort of collateral damage is never a good thing for anyone involved.
Although in a better place now, FS1 continues to evolve. It recently added Bundesliga soccer matches and soon will debut a new Premier Boxing Champions series, “Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays.” It’s all about expanding and enhancing the live-events inventory.
“Two years in, we’re basically where we expected to be all along,” Mulvihill told Cablefax. “It just was a different path to the same place.”
Credit to the Orange County Register who originally published this article
John Buccigross: Return Of NHL ‘Reenergized’ Me In ESPN Role
“I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long.”
John Buccigross is probably the most thankful out of anyone that the NHL returned to the ESPN airwaves this season.
Bucci has been at the network for 25 years and was a part of the coverage team the last time ESPN had NHL broadcast rights. He told Awful Announcing that the change after the 2003-04 season really helped change his focus at the network.
“It’s probably a good thing that it went away back in 2004, because I was able to focus on SportsCenter and kind of move up the ladder there, and maybe I never would have if hockey had stayed all these years,” he said. “Maybe that was good. And then I got involved with college hockey, I asked to do play-by-play a couple of years after we lost the NHL, so I’ve been doing college hockey for over 15 years with play-by-play, hoping we would get the NHL back and then I could do NHL play-by-play.”
Now the NHL is back, the Stanley Cup Final will air on ESPN and ABC, and John Buccigross will be a part of it in some fashion. He said having the chance to pick back up where he left off all those years ago gave him a second wind in his career.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my career, being at ESPN over 25 years,” he said. “To kind of get reenergized, reinvigorated with your job after being in the same place for 25 years, that’s probably pretty rare. I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long. At this stage of my career, it was just perfect timing.”
ESPN and Turner Sports replaced NBC Sports as the U.S. broadcast rightsholders for the NHL this season.
Mark Sanchez Emerges As Potential #2 NFL Analyst At FOX
“It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth.”
Football season is 104 days away and FOX is still sorting out its broadcast crews for the upcoming season.
Enter former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as one of the top candidates being considered for the number two booth at FOX this season.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that if Drew Brees doesn’t end up in the role, Sanchez is next in line. Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt will comprise the top broadcast team for FOX this season.
It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth. Marchand reported that Sanchez made a great impression on producers in auditions and tests.
Mark Sanchez began his broadcasting career three years ago. After two seasons of covering college football for ESPN, he made the move to FOX last year.
Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.