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ADIOS SPORTSCHANNEL, HOLA FOX SPORTS NET
Published January 29, 1998
Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan and News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch officially launched Fox Sports Net (FSN) last night at a ceremony in The Theater at MSG. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined Dolan on stage and symbolically flipped switches which connected all of the network's affils. All Cablevision Rainbow Media RSNs that were known as SportsChannel, including NY, OH, New England, Chicago and Pacific, will now be known as Fox Sports NY, Fox Sports OH, Fox Sports New England, Fox Sports Chicago and Fox Sports Bay Area. The MSG Network will keep its name, but will feature some FSN programming. New logos for each re-branded channel were unveiled at the event, along with a taped prospectus of what the newly launched FSN can offer in the way of reach for national advertisers (THE DAILY). THE EVENT: FSN's Kevin Frazier and Van Earl Wright anchored "Fox Sports News." At 7:00pm ET, Frazier said, "We invite you to celebrate television history in the making." Fox's James Brown served as emcee while Murdoch appeared via satellite from London. Murdoch: "Fox has always been a huge believer in sports programming, and we believe Fox Sports Net is the future of sports television." Dolan: "We are ... very confident that the Fox Sports Net is poised to become the premiere sports network in America" (THE DAILY). FROM THE POWER PLAYERS: Earlier in the day, Cablevision CEO James Dolan said that FSN "will provide viewers across the country with unprecedented levels of choice and quality in televised sports." Fox Sports President David Hill, on bringing the Fox "attitude" to regional sportscasts: "What we're trying to do is to ramp up the production of local teams so that it looks like a full network broadcast." Fox TV CEO Chase Carey, on the aggregate ratings of FSN: "When you look at what our ratings will be combined on an NBA game or an NHL game or an MLB game, combined against the national games that are done [on TNT, TBS, ESPN, etc.] ... we will have ratings that are multiples ... of what those guys are doing." Hill, on competing with ESPN: "Are we going to cut into ESPN's ad revenue? Absolutely. But I think that as time goes on, I think the two services are pretty much supplementary." More Hill, asked if there is too much sports programming: "If there's one great thing about sports, it's that it's unscripted. And the guy in the white hat doesn't always get to kiss the horse. Sports is the last frontier of reality in television" (THE DAILY). TIERED-PACKAGES: Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan told the N.Y. DAILY NEWS that "somewhere in the not-too-distant future, viewers will be paying a premium for packages they now receive as part of their basic cable package." Dolan, on a tiered system: "If [the cable subscriber] wants all of the games of all of the teams -- great. He can buy Fox Sports New York and MSG together as part of a package, or he can buy one of them separately. What I hope will happen is we can pull teams out from the packages so if the subscriber wants to buy the games of one particular team he can have just that" (Bob Raissman, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/29). MORE PROGRAMMING: FSN will premiere "Going Deep," hosted by Joe Buck, on February 1. The 60-minute weekly sports magazine show will offer a "behind-the-scenes look" at the names and issues "shaping the world of sports" (FSN).