September 22, 2002

Bad Attitude: Where Fox Sports Net went wrong in its quest to best ESPN

It all started in 1997, when News Corp bought out Prime Network and several regional sports networks and launched Fox Sports Net. It seemed like a good idea, competing with ESPN by emphasizing regional coverage. However, some bad moves and a general dismissal of "FOX Attitude," led to the downfall of Fox Sports president's David Hill's quest to beat out the boys (and girls) from Bristol. Their first mistake was trying to launch a sport news program to compete with Sportscenter. The National Sports Report had talented anchors, but the format and the gimmicky direction of the show turned off many fans. The old rule of "keep it simple, stupid" seemed to be an afterthought to Fox Sports Net. The program could be very annoying at times with its MTV-like editing of highlights, and bellowing announcers who seemed to forget that viewers tend not to like being shouted at. Their second mistake was signing Keith Olbermann to a huge contract. While their talent raid did allow Chris Myers a chance to shine, the Olbermann signing was a collossal flop. The ratings for the National Sports Report never achieved Sportscenter levels, and the Olbermann Evening News was a huge dissappointment, albeit a genuinely unique idea. The third mistake was never fully becoming a 24 hour a day network. Infomercials may pay the bills, but do nothing to satisfy the sports cravings of the late night owls or mid-morning Mr. Moms. Once known for showing a broad variety of sports, now all you ever see on Fox Sports South (my local affiliate) are Braves baseball, a few local college games, and multiple repeats of Beyond the Glory, You Gotta See This! and The Best Damn Sports Show Period. While Fox Sports Net did have its positives, such as local pro sports coverage, regional sports reports, and NASCAR programming such as Totally NASCAR and NASCAR This Morning, the negatives outweigh them. The National Sports Report was put out of its misery with BDSSP, a replacement with is the best disguise for filler programming. My recommendations to the folks at Fox: return BDSSP to an hour format and have it at 10pm EST, limit or eliminate the informercials, show more sports instead of multiple repeats of Beyond the Glory and You Gotta See This, bring back international sports like English soccer and Aussie rules football to Fox Sports Net, and develop more original programming along the lines of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, Beg, Borrow and Deal, The Season, and The Life. Fox Sports Net should not worry about competing with ESPN, but rather concentrate on their regional coverage. The Fox Sports team on the main broadcast network still does an outstanding job with Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the National Football League, and it can find excellence with Fox Sports Net. It will take some ingenuity, and some more flops, to get to where they want to go as a sports media power.

posted by jasonbondshow to commentary at 01:44 PM - 0 comments

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