Tags: fox | sports | network | espn

Fox Set To Launch Sports Network To Rival ESPN?

Monday, 17 Dec 2012 03:08 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Fox will likely launch its own national television sports network in 2013 called Fox Sports 1.

Though the new venture has yet to be formally acknowledged by News Corp., the media giant which owns Fox, the apparent intention to launch the network next year was published on Sunday by The Wall Street Journal, another division of News Corp.

The move is seen by many industry insiders as an attempt by Fox to garner some of the multi-billion dollar domestic sports market from network's such as ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co. and has an estimated value of $42 billion.

If launched, the network will be a rebranding of Fox's current motor-sports Speed network, which is presently available in 80 million U.S. homes.

Through its sports division, Fox has existing deals with nearly every major sports entity in the U.S., including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and a considerable number of local hockey, basketball, and baseball teams.

Fox's expansion in the sport's realm was demonstrated in November when News Corp. completed a $2 billion deal acquiring 49 percent of the YES Network, a New York City-based, regional cable channel that broadcasts New York Yankees baseball games and Brooklyn Nets basketball games, among other local sporting events.

On the West Coast, Fox is also said to be renewing its TV rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a meeting with investors in September, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey downplayed the corporation's aspirations of creating an ESPN rival saying, "People have said we're going after ESPN. ESPN is a different game."

Carey, however, did express an interest in enhancing the network's existing sports coverage later in November during a News Corp. earnings call. He told analysts that Fox has "got enough breadth and the right franchises" to build its sports properties "into something that can be special for us."

If Fox goes ahead with its launch of a national sports network next year, it will be joining a congested field that in addition to ESPN includes CBS Sport's Desk and NBC Sports Network, among many others.

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