Fox Sports hoping Super Bowl will boost sister cable network Fox Sports 1


Big, live sporting events deliver viewers. No live sporting event is bigger than the Super Bowl.

The higher-ups at Fox Sports are hoping Super Bowl 48 will deliver a viewership boost to their fledgling 24-hour sports network, Fox Sports 1.

Just as CBS did last year with CBS Sports Network, Fox is surrounding the Super Bowl with shoulder programming on FS1 (as well as other platforms). That includes “Fox Football Daily,” which will be rebranded as “Fox Super Bowl Daily” during Super Bowl week and emanate from Times Square.

Additionally, FS1 will have its own pregame show, “Fox Super Bowl Kickoff,” and extensive postgame coverage on “Fox Sports Live.”

In all, FS1 will air more than 90 hours of live programming during the week — from Big East basketball games to UFC bouts — including 40-plus devoted to coverage of the Super Bowl.

“I just view it as an opportunity to own this event that everybody’s going to be talking about,” David Nathanson, general manager of FS1, said by phone Thursday. “It gives us a chance to share with fans some of our biggest strengths and assets.

“We’ve never had an opportunity on a national basis to be able to carry on the conversation after our big broadcast on the network. Fox Sports 1 gives us that opportunity.”

FS1 launched in mid-August as a would-be rival to ESPN. Although FS1’s ratings have climbed since then, they still aren’t in ESPN’s neighborhood.

Nathanson and other Fox executives obviously care about the ratings. But they’re more focused on the quality of the product and FS1’s long-term prospects.

“I’m very pleased with where the network is today and have very high expectations for where the network is going to go tomorrow,” Nathanson said. “Launching a 24/7 national network, ostensibly from scratch, is a huge undertaking. To do it at the standards we set for ourselves is really what I’m primarily concerned with.”

WELCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY

Major League Baseball approved the implementation of instant replay Thursday, and all I can say is, it’s about time.

I’ve been championing the cause for replay in this space and others for years. When the fans watching at home on their HD TVs have a clearer view of close plays than the umpires on the scene, that’s a real problem.

The new replay system is bound to encounter some bumps along the way, and it might lengthen the average game time. But that’s a small price to pay for getting calls right.

It’s worth noting MLB’s replay reviews will emanate from a command center in New York. Don’t be surprised if the NFL adopts a similar model in the interest of consistency.

REMOTE PATROL

It has been a brutal season for the Lakers. But their fans can relive the good old days via a new series on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “Lakers Top 10” debuts Monday at 6 p.m. PST with the 10 most memorable Magic Johnson moments. Future subjects include Kobe Bryant and the rivalry with the Celtics. …

Bryant and former President Bill Clinton were among the participants in a town hall event this week about the role of sports in the lives of children. A condensed version of “Kids and Sports” will air Feb. 9 on ESPN2. …

ESPN this week released a portion of its “Sunday Night Baseball” schedule. In addition to opening night March 30, the Dodgers are scheduled to appear April 6 (Giants) and July 20 (Cardinals).

The Angels’ lone scheduled appearance at this point is April 27 vs. the Yankees. …

ESPN is launching a new “30 for 30” documentary series in advance of the World Cup. “30 for 30: Soccer Stories,” including two feature-length and six 30-minute films, debuts in April. …

The next episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” debuting Tuesday at 10 p.m., will include a segment on marijuana use in the NFL. Two of the league’s semifinalists, Denver and Seattle, play in states where marijuana has been legalized. …

For the fourth year in a row, the four NFL divisional playoff games averaged more than 34 million viewers. Chargers-Broncos on CBS led the way with an average of 41.2 million. …

Tim Brando and CBS Sports parted ways after an 18-year relationship. Brando had been the studio host for SEC football and one of the play-by-play announcers for the NCAA Tournament. …

ESPN announced numerous changes within its programming and production departments. It remains to be seen how the shuffling of executives will affect the on-air and online products moving forward. …

Fan voting is open for the “LA Sports Awards,” which will air on Prime Ticket on March 14. Fans can vote for their top 10 sports moments of 2013 at lasports.org through Jan. 31. …

ESPN will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame’s 71-70 streak-ending upset of UCLA with a one-hour special. “88 and 1,” including interviews with Bill Walton and Dick Enberg. It debuts Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. …

If you can stomach it, Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice will draft the squads for the first “unconferenced” Pro Bowl on NFL Network next week. The draft will be spread over two nights, airing Tuesday and Wednesday at 5 p.m. …

MLB Network is launching a new series, “My Most Memorable Game,” in which baseball legends relive the memories from signature games in their careers. The Cal Ripken Jr. episode debuted Thursday. Future shows will feature John Smoltz, Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson, Johnny Bench and Tom Glavine. …

NBC will have 84 commentators in Sochi, Russia, the most for a Winter Olympics. The roster includes Olympians who have won a combined 35 medals. …

Interesting quote from Larry Bird, who’s part of NBA TV’s “On a Mission: Indiana Pacers,” a behind-the-scenes look at the championship contenders: “I really haven’t won anything for Indiana. … If they can win it, my life would be fulfilled.” The special premieres Friday at 2:30 p.m.

 

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