August 17, 2013

Fox no underdog with new sports network

The network puts on its game face as it tackles ESPN in a seemingly saturated TV landscape.

By CRAIG DAVIS Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

The new kid isn't exactly a neophyte, nor can it be considered a genuine underdog.

Nonetheless, if upstart 24-hour sports network Fox Sports 1, which launches Saturday, is to make inroads not only against ESPN but in a seemingly saturated TV sports landscape, it will have to scream alternative.

That's why you will see 81-year-old Regis Philbin hosting a discussion and analysis program called "Crowd Goes Wild."

Also why "Fox Sports Live," FS1's counter to "SportsCenter," will be hosted by a pair of zany Canadians who are beloved north of the border but unknown to viewers in the United States.

NFL fans can tune in for the curiosity of how the unpredictable personalities of former players such as Brian Urlacher and Randy Moss will interact in a loosely formatted daily insider show.

"I think we looked at this more like NFL uncensored, NFL after dark, put together a fun crew and guys who have known each other for a long time and really make it more insider than anything else out there," said Jay Glazer, Fox Sports senior writer.

"Fox Football Daily" will premier at 6 p.m. Monday, after the new network's opening weekend dominated by NASCAR and UFC. FS1 will sign on at 6 a.m. Saturday with a one-hour college football kickoff show.

Fox Sports 1 replaces Speed on most providers. It will be available initially in about 90 million homes. A sister channel, Fox Sports 2, will also come online this weekend in place of Fuel.

Fox is clearly committed to building this venture.

This month Fox Sports expanded a multi-platform agreement with NASCAR through 2022, and finalized a 12-year agreement with the USGA.

In addition, a new thoroughbred racing partnership will debut on Fox Sports 1 on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale with the Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Most intriguing is the late-night studio news show that will joust with "SportsCenter.

"Fox Sports Live" will be anchored by Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, well known in Canada as irreverent and hilarious co-hosts of TSN's "SportsCentre."

"We will bring the maple syrup," O'Toole said.


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