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Continued: Fox Sports 1 is ready to take on ESPN

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 16, 2013 - 7:37 AM

The dominant player in TV sports since 1979, it reaches more than 100 million homes, which pay dearly to get it. Roughly $5 a month from the average cable bill goes to ESPN, compared to about $1.20 for TNT, the next priciest non-premium channel.

Fox boss Rupert Murdoch has used sports as a game-changer before.

In 1993, he stunned the broadcast world by paying $1.6 billion to acquire NFL rights for his then-struggling Fox network.

It’s now impossible to think of football without Fox’s splashy approach.

A battle for talent

Fox is trying to do for sports what it did in cable news in 1996. Within six years Fox News toppled longtime ratings champion CNN. It’s been No. 1 ever since.

Fox Sports 1 recently outbid NBC and ESPN for men’s golf, paying $1 billion to broadcast the U.S. Open and other USGA events for 12 years, starting in 2015.

Pro golfer turned NBC commentator Johnny Miller didn’t hide his disappointment over the news. “I feel bad … that money was more important than basically a good golf crew,” Miller told the Associated Press.

There’s also a battle for talent brewing. It’s no coincidence that ESPN is bringing back both Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock, who was working for Fox Sports.

Most believe there’s enough interest — and enough sports — to keep everybody in the game, especially since Fox’s soccer and UFC coverage will skew to a younger crowd.

“My college students are super excited about Fox Sports,” said Chris Taylor, director of digital sports production at Ball State University. “Fox’s presentation style appeals to them. They’re even excited about Regis.”

 

Neal Justin • 612-673-7431

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  • Fox Sports 1

    What: New 24-hour channel, launches 5 a.m. Saturday.

    Key sports: College basketball and football, NASCAR, soccer, UFC mixed martial arts, NFL (but no live games) and Major League Baseball (starts in 2014).

    Signature shows: “Fox Sports Live” (10 p.m. daily); “Crowd Goes Wild” with Regis Philbin (4 p.m. weekdays); “Fox Football Daily” (5 p.m. weekdays).

    To see it: Figure out where to tune in at foxsports.com/foxsports1.

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