Will Fox Launch All-Sports Network?

Will Fox Launch All-Sports Network?

Below is a news summary by Mike McNichols, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University.

(from Sports Business Journal, April 2, 2012) Watch out ESPN, it seems you’ve got a target on your back. First it was CBS Sports Network, and then it was NBC Sports Network, now it would only make sense that Fox Sports Network would take a seat at the “Big Kids” table. Although Fox has consistently denied the rumors of their pursuit of a major sports network, pieces seem to be moving behind the scenes to at the very least define if it’s even plausible. Fox has come out swinging for the fences in recent TV deals, acquiring rights to PAC-12 broadcasts as well as FIFA soccer matches. They continue to search for new avenues and have their eyes on multiple TV contracts set to expire within the next few years.

Fox has been told by prospective partners, like Major League Baseball, that it must provide a larger presence network to compete with the giants like ESPN and NBC. NBC has just recently joined the ranks of elite after their re-branding of the NBC Sports Network which was formerly known as Versus. Fox has the ability to make a move similar to NBC. A less popular channel provided on basic cable known as the Speed Network has been the center of speculation surrounding a national Fox Network. The Speed Network is home to a large majority of “Motor Sports” that don’t get the national recognition like the major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.). By replacing the Speed Network with the Fox Sports National Network, some fear the “Motor Sports” will lose an avenue to the country at a time when few remain. The Network already broadcasts an average of 25 hours a week of NASCAR programs. Compare that to the meager five hours a week of NASCAR programming on the ESPN networks. There are also rumors that if Fox were to make such a move, NASCAR would move quickly to start their own network. The proposed NASCAR Network would be centered on the NASCAR Media Groups newly erected $43 million facility in downtown Charlotte.

Major motor sports like NASCAR are waiting in anticipation to see what step Chase Carey, News Corporation’s President, and David Hill, Fox Sports Chairman, take with the Speed Network. A national network would give Fox an identity that could draw in major sports away from ESPN and NBC. MLB’s contract with Fox runs out at the end of 2013 and it’s rumored their looking for a larger network. Fox could make a large splash by giving MLB a network with vast TV time to broadcast. In the end, Fox has the opportunity to throw the sports world a game changer and make the market that much more competitive.