Review of Fox Sports Live: Some hits, misses, and was I watching Aaron Sorkin’s SportsNight?

I spent the morning breaking down film. Hey, it’s not just limited to football coaches.

I will preface this in bold: You can’t judge a new studio show on just one show.

These shows take time to develop. And it takes viewers time to adjust to new voices and formats.

However, first impressions are important. Here are mine after watching the first two installments of the new Fox Sports Live, Fox Sports 1’s answer to SportsCenter.

The Canadian guys: At some point, I’m sure I will stop calling them the Canadian guys. Also, at some point, I will figure out who is who between Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. Or was that Jay O’Toole and Dan Onrait, or Jay Dan and Onrait O’Toole?

Whatever, the imports from Canada made their American debuts over the weekend. Fox Sports 1 even put out a video of highlights (above).

As you can see some of the stuff is amusing, and some of it is not. For instance, the intro to a UFC clip, in which Onrait says he wanted Regis Philbin and Bill Raftery to meet in the first fight. Then they show an old Canadian clip of two old guys fighting.

Didn’t make me laugh and definitely felt forced.

Also, at times I really thought I was watching an old rerun from SportsNight, the terrific ’90s show written by Aaron Sorkin. There was this introduction from JayDan (not sure who actually said it): “Joe Buck and Troy Aikman both have firm handshakes.”

I mean, did Sorkin write that? Really, check out this old SportsNight clip and see how it compares to JayDan.

As I said, there’s going to be an adjustment period to JayDan. It is going to take time to get used to their pace and rhythm. And their humor.

At first blush, I do think the Canadian guys are funny. My advice, though, would be: Don’t try to be too funny.

The panel: This is a hybrid show. JayDan report the news from the anchor desk. Then they throw it over to a bunch of former athletes sitting in brown chairs.

Charissa Thompson moderates the debate portion of the show. You can tell she knows the drill in trying to pull out provocative quotes from the athletes.

As a viewer, I like the change of pace. I found myself wondering when they were going to switch back to the athletes. A spirited debate about Ryan Braun showed the potential for this format. If there was a breakout star on the first night, it was Gabe Kapler, who clearly has strong opinions.

The big question: do we really care what the former athletes think about other sports? Andy Roddick likes Louisville to contend for the national title this fall. That’s great, but why should I care about how a tennis player feels about college football?

Going forward, it will be an issue for Fox Sports Live to build credibility for these former athletes beyond their own sports. If people don’t buy in, it will hurt this part of the show.

The Scoreboard: I liked the big board format. It gave me the feeling of looking at a scoreboard at a sporting event. It also provided a different look than what you see on SportsCenter.

UFC: New Fox Sports 1 is loaded with UFC, which means the fights will get plenty of play on Fox Sports Live. I’m switching when they go to those segments since I’m not a UFC guy. I figure others feel the same way.

Also, will the viewers for UFC stick around to watch Fox Sports Live? I’m sure the research team will be working on that question.

Early analysis: There is some potential for this show. It does appear to be an alternative to SportsCenter.

The key, though, will be JayDan. There’s a fine line between amusing and annoying. They need to make sure they are on the right side of that line. Otherwise, they will be taking their acts back to Canada.





2 thoughts on “Review of Fox Sports Live: Some hits, misses, and was I watching Aaron Sorkin’s SportsNight?

  1. I tuned in just as they were starting the UFC Regis-Raftery riff, and also thought it was labored, not very clever and rooted in the misguided belief they were being edgy. But overriding that thought was “Why are they wasting valuable time on the premiere of their signature program yapping about UFC?” Have the masses been clamoring for more coverage of this, or was it Fox proving in the early minutes of their launch that they are exactly like ESPN–artificially pumping up the importance of the events they have the rights to?

  2. Jay Onrait made me tune out TSN Sportscenter (I live in Vancouver). They were so unbelievable annoying, especially Onrait, that I could not bear it. They definitely force things, milk jokes and destroy sports coverage. Thanks for taking them, I am now watching TSN again.

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