An interesting brand marketing battle will unfold later this summer and fall in the cable sports television category. It will feature Fox Sports 1 which launches August 17th, versus ESPN. Both will compete for the attention of serious sports fans.
Fox Sports 1 is a 24-hour network that will feature live sports events, news shows and studio programs. Fox’s goal is to develop a unique brand and personality for Fox Sports 1 that is different from ESPN. Fox has described their positioning as “jockularity”. Their plan is for Fox Sports 1 to be the funny, irreverent, less serious sports channel. Fox’s research has shown that fans are growing tired of ESPN’s stat happy approach. Regis Philbin will host “Crowd Goes Wild” an hour-long interview show that will air daily at 5PM.
ESPN launched the first 24-hours sports channel in 1979. It has owned the cable sports business free from serious competition for years. Competitive efforts by CNNSI and NBC Sports Network failed to generate large audiences. ESPN is very profitable. It generates $9 billion a year in revenue for its parent company, Walt Disney. This is the first time a serious rival has emerged.
Personally, I have been dissatisfied with ESPN for years. I have grown tired of their antics, emphasis on trying to be clever and reporters who didn’t have their facts straight. For me, Bleacher Report has replaced ESPN.com as my go to site for breaking sports news. The sports news and broadcasting category is ripe for disruptive innovation.
Fox Sports, which was formed in 1994 has accumulated some impressive live programming assets for this battle. These assets include the NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, Soccer, College Football and College Basketball. Fox has aggressively bid for sports programming rights in recent years often driving up the price.
This competition will be interesting to watch. It is always good to see new competition emerge in a category that has been dominated by one player. With the demand for sport programming and information robust, my hope is that it will spur continued innovation that will benefit fans.
Do you think that Fox Sports 1 will be successful as a 24-Hour All Sports Cable Network?