In my initial report in the spring regarding Fox’s intentions of turning one of their current cable properties into a general sports network to compete with ESPN, it was originally believed (or at least, I originally did) that the action-sports oriented FUEL network would be the breeding ground.
But as subsequent reports since then suggest, the new Fox Sports One network will be created at the expense of SPEED, the channel that specializes in auto racing.
Recently, the SPEED logo has been incorporated with the mundane Fox Sports logo. A sure sign that changes are in the works.
And indeed, SPEED has announced that the current season of presenting Formula One races will be its last, effectively ending a seventeen-year relationship with F1. Fox claims they were outbid by another entity, believed to be NBC Sports Group.
Still, SPEED’s severing ties with F1 is a sure sign that Fox will be moving SPEED away from auto racing, and more toward conventional sports.
But the possibility of FUEL being converted to a general sports network should not be ruled out.
This week, one of my sports media peers presented a scenario, where Fox would rebrand a total of three of its cable networks – SPEED, FUEL and Fox Soccer – into three networks with the “Fox Sports 1/2/3” name attached to them. It would match a setup Fox currently has in place in Australia. (Incidentally, Australia has their own versions of the SPEED and FUEL networks.)
Of course, the ESPN network that Fox is gunning for has ESPN2 and ESPN3.
But Fox probably isn’t going to wait fourteen years (the amount of time between the launches of ESPN and ESPN2) to put Fox Sports 2 on the air in American households.
So just when you think your favorite Fox cable network would never be turned into a general sports network – it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.