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SBD/Issue 82/Sports Media
L.A. Critics Call On Fox Sports To Get Personality On "RSR"
Published January 18, 2001
Fox Sports West launched its "Regional Sports Report" ("RSR"), the half-hour, 11:00pm local news show, on June 28. The nightly program is now available in 4,888,810 HHs in the L.A. area. Today, THE DAILY continues its series on Fox Sports' "RSR" by speaking with Larry Stewart of the L.A. Times, Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. Daily News and Evan Tuchinsky of the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
FROM THE WEST COAST: Tuchinsky called the "RSR" "kind of disappointing to me because I thought the premise was really good. The execution just hasn't been as good as it should have been considering all the resources that Fox could put into this program. It kind of reminds me of a small paper trying to cover a big market. It does little quick hits on a lot of things, but it doesn't really go into too much detail. The concept of it is great, and there are times that they execute it well when they're talking about local stories. But more often than not, they don't bother to do detailed-oriented, interesting pieces. ... You don't really get too many surprises when you watch their show. ... It just seems too much like a second-rate version of the 'National Sports Report.'" Stewart said the show is "getting better," and should "continue to improve." Stewart: "Certainly the effort is there on Fox's part, but I don't think it's reached the point where it's compelling viewing yet. Eventually, it's going to be a pretty good news show. The features are getting better" (THE DAILY).
IN SEARCH OF PERSONALITY: Stewart adds, "It did not start out very sophisticated for the L.A. market. A little too homerish and rah-rah-rah for the home team. They've made strides in improving that, because that might work in the smaller markets, but it was kind of jolting to most sports fans in L.A." Hoffarth said, "The more I talk to people about this, this thing is too over-the-top." Hoffarth adds that there is "no personality to" the "RSR," saying, "It's just very much of a facade, you could just see right through it, and you could see how Fox was being a homer for the local team. Maybe it works in other markets, but in L.A., I thought it was embarrassing almost." He called the production "very good," and the show "has reporters who go out and get stories. But the anchors have no local identity. Personality-wise, the show is having a hard time grabbing onto something here in L.A." Stewart agrees, adding, "They might have been better served bringing in anchors that were more familiar with the L.A. market than in bringing in out-of-towners that nobody's ever seen before." Tuchinsky, on the show's anchors: "Unfortunately, too many of them come across as homers. The main thing is these people just aren't very good. ... You get too many cringe factors from the show" (THE DAILY).
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? Hoffarth said Fox Sports should "position the 'RSR' right after a local game, but unfortunately, I think they still have it backwards where they put the local newscast on at 11:00pm instead of 10:00pm. In L.A., I think it's really having a hard time finding its stride. If it does find one, I think it's got the potential to make a huge impact because of the time available to do this." But Hoffarth said while the show is "heavily publicized, there really is just no buzz. It just really hasn't grabbed on and grabbed people like it probably should. ... I think they've shortchanged the local broadcasts, at least here, from the financial standpoint, and the result of that is just not the product that it probably should be." Tuchinsky said the "RSR" does not "seem to really be required viewing, and in some ways it very well could have been if it were well done. ... Fox needs to make a commitment one way or another. They either have to fund it so that it is going to be a comprehensive, high-quality program or probably not bother." Stewart: "I don't think people are coming into the sports department at the L.A. Times and saying, 'Wow, did you see what (FSN) had on their ('RSR') last night?,'" Stewart concluded, "Fox needs this to last. ... It really hurts them that they don't have the identity that ESPN has. In this market, they keep changing their name and nothing really sticks, nothing really catchy ... and it just leaves the viewer totally confused. The continual name changes and format changes, they're spinning their wheels when they do that. They've got to lock in on something and stick with it" (THE DAILY).
COMING NEXT: THE DAILY speaks with media critics in Houston, Dallas and OK City who review FSSW's "RSR."