August has proven to be a month in which revolutionary cable networks launched.
On the first day of August 1980, eight-year-old HBO launched a new sister premium network, Cinemax, which aired movies around the clock (similar to HBO, but sans the stand-up comedy, sports and children’s fare).
Exactly one year later, the first music video channel, MTV, launched.
Of course, back in the early age of cable television, such networks proved to be trailblazers in that they inspired a slew of similarly formatted cable networks over the years. Consider that in 2012, premium networks that specialize in movies are now dabbling in original series, and cable networks whose original premise was music programming are airing movies (in fact, no fewer than three of them at the same time this past Saturday afternoon).
There is also a countless number of sports channels in the cable universe, regionally and nationally. As we all know, the very first national sports network to go on the air, just a few days afterAugust 1979, was ESPN.
And if you’ve been reading this space over the course of this year, you know that Fox is setting the stage to challenge ESPN as “the worldwide leader in sports,” with a brand new general sports network.
More details have been made available about Fox’s new sports network.
First off, we now have a good idea of what name the network will bear. What originally was the working title “Fox One” has morphed into “Fox Sports 1,” which is currently in use on a Fox-operated sports network in Australia.
But now, they’ve made it somewhat official.
Earlier this fall, an entity you might have heard of known as “Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation” registered trademarks for a few phrases: not just “Fox Sports 1,” but also “Fox Sports The 1”, as well as the abridged “The 1.” The description of the “goods and services” for each trademark includes references to information or entertainment “in the field of sports” or other such derivatives.
And courtesy of Trademarkia, we have a copy of what will be the official logo of the new Fox Sports 1 network.
In addition, Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand has released, albeit second-handedly, details of a ten-minute promotional video which includes potential details as to what – and who – will be seen on the new network.
Among possible regular programming offerings are a talk show hosted by Fox Sports (and sometimes NFL Network) insider Jay Glazer. There’s also plans for ‘a late-night alternative to SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship show. Well, if Fox is going to go gunning for ESPN with their own version of “SportsCenter,” it had better not be as vanilla as “The National Sports Report.” And I don’t think Keith Olbermann is going to walk through their doors, either.
In another segment of the video, a focus group of people in ESPN’s demographic lamented about the network’s “East Coast bias.” Later, in the same video, Fox Sports 1 revealed “plans to carry several New York-based events” in the days prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ – and, incidentally, will be broadcast on Fox.
Hey, I guess if you’re going to copy ESPN, you might as well go all the way, right? Then again, Fox Sports, specifically its radio property, has been known to possess a “West Coast bias.”
Actually, according to Ourand, while Fox Sports 1 is targeting an August 1 launch next year – it would be at the expense of the racing-oriented Speed network – top execs are targeting a “big coming out party” in late January 2014, prior to the aforementioned Super Bowl. It would be similar to the game plan that NBC executed shortly after they converted Versus into the NBC Sports Network earlier this year (Super Bowl XLVI aired on NBC).
The underlying theme of the super-double-secret video is that Fox is primed to make television history a third time, after shaking up broadcast television in the 80’s with Fox Broadcasting, and cable news in the 90’s with Fox News Channel.
But it’ll be at least an eight-month wait until Fox finally starts their quest to 1-up ESPN.
Once they start airing movies like “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” then and only then can we declare Fox Sports 1 a failure.