After conquering most of the cable news market, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is now taking aim at the Worldwide Leader, and is in the process of launching their own 24-hour national sports network.
News Corp. is assembling the required rights from pay-TV carriers and sports organizations, said the people, who requested anonymity because talks are private. While a final decision hasn't been made to move forward, the company is considering converting its Fuel action-sports network to the new channel, two of the people said.
Murdoch and News Corp. is a little late to the game, as both NBC and CBS already have their own networks up and running. NBC Sports has the NHL, and CBS Sports has hosted key college football games in the past few seasons. And besides, they already have their Fox Sports local affiliates across the county. It doesn't make much sense, until you begin to look a little deeper.
ESPN has pissed a lot of television providers off because of the exorbitant fees required to carry the network. ESPN operates in a position of total power, because they air so much live content across several key sports. They know if a cable or satellite company played hard-ball and balked at negotiations, subscribers will bitch and moan, or worse, change providers.
As the article also notes, Fox has been signing some massive television deals with MLB teams. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Texas Rangers both inked long-term deals with Fox Sports that totaled more than a combined $6 billion over the next 20 years. The Dodgers will sign their own deal that will easily bring in more than the $2 billion spent on purchasing the franchise.
The personnel needed to compete with the Worldwide Leader is already in place. The contracts of several ESPN employees (including Scott Van Pelt and Erin Andrews) are expiring very soon. The success of people like Amy K. Nelson and Rich Eisen (at SB Nation and The NFL Network, respectively) has shown you can thrive without the exposure ESPN provides. If Murdoch and News Corp. can build a true challenger to ESPN, the potential cable fees the company could put a big dent in paying off those media deals.
It's a shame Murdoch is a real asshole, because this seems like nothing but a good thing for customers.