My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana looks at the first year of Fox Sports 1.
From the column:
I rarely watch anything on the new Fox Sports 1. Judging by the ratings, I am not alone in making that statement.
This isn’t a complete indictment of Fox Sports 1, although in a way it is. However, there’s a larger issue at play.
The struggles endured by Fox Sports 1 since it flipped the switch just over a year ago underscores how difficult it is to launch a new network with new programming in today’s marketplace. This is a challenging game, not for the faint of heart or those with small wallets.
Just ask ESPN. Long before the Bristol, Conn., campus became the biggest cash register in television, the network struggled in its infancy by showing all sorts of odd sports that were far beyond the mainstream. I must confess I do miss Australian Rules Football.
Just ask NBCSN and CBS Sports Network, which still face uphill battles for eyeballs against the ESPN monster. And away from sports, let’s not forget “Seinfeld,” the most popular TV show ever, almost got cancelled in its first year because of poor ratings.
With rare exceptions, these things take time, provided executives grant that precious gift.
The main obstacle for a new network is getting viewers to change their habits. That applies to me and others. When I’m surfing on my remote, my fingers automatically punch in 173 for ESPN, 410 for MLB Network, 169 for NFL Network, 200 for Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 199 for the Golf Channel, among others.
Even after a year, I’m still not programmed to click 408 on my system for Fox Sports 1. It requires a conscious effort to remind myself to go over there. And I’m barely conscious when I’m watching TV.
Even worse, my teenage boys consume massive amounts of sports on TV, much to their mother’s chagrin. And I never see them watching Fox Sports 1. That’s quite a telling statement.
However, I would flip over more often to Fox Sports 1 if the options were better. Quite simply, the new network’s new offerings have failed to measure up.
And here’s the link to the rest of the column.