As expected, FOX announced plans Tuesday to launch a national sports network called FOX Sports 1 on Aug. 17, a cable network that will take aim squarely at the dominance of ESPN in the lucrative sports media market.
The announcement came at FOX's upfront presentation to advertisers and the media in New York. (You can view the full news release embedded below.)
The company will rebrand racing channel Speed into Fox Sports 1 beginning Aug. 17, and the channel will be available in 90 million homes, the biggest sports network launch ever, the network said.
In the announcement by FOX Sports Media Group Co-Presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks, FOX said:
At the outset, FS1 boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.
"Our 'secret,' admittedly a very poorly kept one, is now revealed," said Shanks. "Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming."
The news had been expected after The New York Times broke the story on Monday:
The channel will carry Nascar races, Major League Baseball games, college basketball and football, soccer and U.F.C. fights, as well as studio shows. Fox will join an already crowded market. ESPN's many offerings, including eight cable channels, radio network, Web sites and ESPN3 broadband network, collectively generate $6 billion annually. And then there are sports channels from NBC, CBS, the Big Ten and Pacific-12 conferences, and Major League Baseball, the National Football League and National Hockey League.
The Times added that FOX plans to convert its Fuel cable channel to FOX Sports 2.
The news was also expected after former talk-show host Regis Philbin revealed that he would host a show on FOX Sports 1 that will be a centerpiece of the new network, according to the New York Post.
Regis will become the Barbara Walters figure on a sports panel show fashioned after " The View" set to debut in August, sources tell The Post.
The show will be the centerpiece of a new channel, Fox Sports 1, which is expected to be officially announced tomorrow.
Regis — who has never hidden his sharp rooting interest in Notre Dame, the Yankees or the NFL's Dolphins and Giants — will preside over a yet-to-be-determined group of Fox sports personalities and sports writers discussing the day's big stories.
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