In case you haven’t noticed — which means you never regularly visited FoxSports.com in the first place — the web site for one of the biggest players in sports is now video-only.
This is not a mistake (or rather, this is not a technical glitch). This is a deliberate effort after Fox concluded that writers just weren’t making the site any money or generating enough eyeballs. It’s a concession to the fact that ESPN and others do that sort of content better, and Fox is hardly alone in putting more emphasis on video.
The news has been out for a few weeks. In this June 26 Adage.com piece, part of an internal memo was published:
“Creating compelling sports video content is what we do best at Fox Sports,” Jamie Horowitz, who oversees the Fox Sports cable networks and online operations, wrote in the memo. “We will be shifting our resources and business model away from written content and instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video across all platforms.”
Horowitz was fired a week later in a move that appears to be related to a sexual harassment investigation.
But the web site has been full speed ahead with the video. You will not find a single written word at Foxsports.com beyond headlines or summaries describing their videos. Ken Rosenthal, among others, is frustrated — and rightfully so.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, here are the five most prominent clips on the site, in order of top to bottom:
- A clip from “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, a show that has been criticized as a ratings failure (with numbers to match). The two hosts in the clip react to something fighter Conor McGregor said. Somebody talks. They talk about it. You listen (or at least a few of you).
- A clip from Colin Cowherd’s “The Herd,” which is teased as “Lonzo Ball, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Aaron Judge have one thing in common.” Oh man, this could be a lot of things, actually. They’re all males. They’re all athletes. They all like ice cream (probably). Alternate headline: If we put four big names into one headline, please click. (I did not click).
- Another clip from Undisputed. In this one, Bayless reacts to free agent running back DeAngelo Williams saying Cowboys fans are annoying. Again, someone says something. Bayless says something about that thing. Time is a flat circle.
- A video of Floyd Mayweather “making it rain” on McGregor. So yeah, a clip from their pre-fight nonsense tour. But it allows the site to promote UFC on Fox. #synergy
- A breakdown of who won the war of words between Mayweather and McGregor. I wish I was kidding. My brain cells are evaporating and I didn’t even watch it.
Below that, we find two Gold Cup soccer highlight videos (fine, that’s a major Fox property and at least shows us something that actually happened), a golf clip from the U.S. Women’s Open (again, on Fox) … and then two more videos of people talking, one about McGregor/Mayweather and one about Lonzo Ball. The two videos below that? Both about McGregor/Mayweather.
So out of the top 12, half are related in some way to the fight between Mayweather and McGregor. Eight of them involve Fox personalities talking. Three of them involve actual sports highlights.
Outside of references to Lonzo Ball and Aaron Judge in those top 12 videos, the NBA and MLB might as well not exist. The NHL? Nah.
ESPN.com has plenty of videos, too … but they’re interspersed with breaking news and written analysis — the kinds of “talkers” that draw someone to a web site (where they then might watch a video). I just can’t imagine going to Foxsports.com as a destination to only find videos of people talking about things, none of which appear to be any kind of news — particularly during the day when I’m at work.
To be fair, though, I’m pretty sure I’m not the target demographic for the remade Fox Sports web site given my interests and the value I place on the written word. It could very well prove to be a more viable product for their bottom line because it seems exceedingly cheap to produce while any clicks on those videos will generate revenue.
This is also an incredibly slow time of the sports year in terms of live events. My guess is they made the switch now to work out the kinks, with the potential for more interesting video content more likely once the NFL season is in full swing.
I’ll check back in a couple of months to see if anything has changed, but it’s doubtful there will be a return visit until then.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome in the comments.