"Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment," reads the press release announcing the Aug. 17 launch of Fox Sports 1. That's how big ESPN is: In the sports world, Rupert Murdoch is considered the scrappy alternative.
Of course, we all know Fox Sports 1 (formerly Speed) won't compete with Bristol in any significant way. If anything, Fox and ESPN are buddies right now.
Some programming notes for the new channel: Regis Philbin will host a daily afternoon show that will either get canceled or go on hiatus a year after it starts. There will be a daily football show, with Terry, Howie, Jimmy, and the rest of the NFL on Fox pre-game gang. There will be some soccer games in the middle of the week, and college football and basketball throughout the week, NASCAR on weekends, and UFC on Wednesdays.
Fox Sports 1 will be on in 90 million homes, and there will be money to be made. When Fox broadcasts the World Cup in five years, this channel will be very important. Next year, it'll have some LCS and LDS baseball games. If the following quote from News Corp. senior VP David Hill is any indication, there will also be a great deal of wishful thinking.
The new network is a long-term bet that live sporting events—i.e., shit you can't DVR—will make for an even better business in the future, and that's probably correct! In the short term, the good news is it can't do any worse than yesterday's scrappy alternative, the NBC Sports Network.