SBD/July 22, 2013/Media

FS1 To Seek New Ad Agency, With Super Bowl Week Possible Testing Ground

Fox Sports Senior VP & Head of Marketing Robert Gottlieb said that once Fox Sports 1 is "up and running this fall he'll likely start searching for a partner -- or partners -- that can come up with creative as effective as Wieden's long-running 'This is SportsCenter' campaign for ESPN," according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. Fox Sports currently works with S.F.-based Pereira & O'Dell "on a project basis." Gottlieb said that FS1 "hasn't decided if it will hold a formal agency review or approach it on a more ad-hoc basis." He added that Pereira & O'Dell "would be invited to participate in the review." The pitch "could revolve around Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XLVIII." Gottlieb said that he "plans to use Super Bowl week in New York as a 'secondary launch window' to blanket TV viewers, advertisers and media buyers with news about Fox Sports 1 and its programs." Gottlieb: "There's definitely big creative that we'll be unveiling ... so in the next couple of months, we probably want to start engaging on that stuff." McCarthy noted FS1 worked "early on with an agency" to create the net's "ambitious, 90-second-long commercial" during Fox' telecast of the MLB All-Star Game last week. But Gottlieb said that they "parted ways before the spot was completed due to 'pretty vast' creative differences." Gottlieb added that once the current branding phase is over, FS1 will "roll out new commercials touting specific new shows" such as "Fox Sports Live" and "Fox Football Daily" (ADAGE.com, 7/19).

FAIR AND BALANCED? BLOOMBERG NEWS' Jonathan Mahler reported Fox "tested a show" for FS1 "that was not built around two guys arguing with each other in staged debate." The show, "tentatively called 'Red, White and Truth,' is to be hosted by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock." He said that the show would be a "combination of interviews and panel discussions" and called it "a mishmash of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher." Whitlock: "There’s an opportunity to pump the brakes and be provocative without it being a shouting match." Mahler reported the "basic idea is simple: Replace pointless, contrived arguments over insignificant issues with genuine, original thoughts and conversations about subjects that actually matter." Mahler: "A worthy cause! But is it even remotely possible? ... Is it too optimistic to think that Whitlock might be on to something? Maybe we’re all getting sick of the manufactured outrage, the mindless debates." In the "absence of encouraging signs, all we have is the increasingly inescapable reality that it’s time for a better sports show, one that doesn't assault our senses and insult our intelligence" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/19).

WILD AND CRAZY GUYS: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted FS1's "Crowd Goes Wild," an hour-long show hosted by Regis Philbin, debuts Aug. 19 and will air weekdays at 5:00pm ET, a "tough time slot to get viewer traction." But "one thing you can't teach in television is likeability, and Philbin has that, even at age 81." Also appearing on the show will be the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay, "one of the best working sports columnists today," and former Sky Sports host and news anchor Georgie Thompson, who "has a major social media following among EPL soccer fans." There have been "far worse ideas on sports television, so we'll see where this goes." Deitsch: "Panel chemistry, obviously, is going to be huge here" (SI.com, 7/21).

STAYING OUT OF THE FRAY: In this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand examines the counter-programming moves ESPN and FS1 are each making and cites NBC Sports Network execs as saying that while the net has “tinkered with some of its afternoon programming … they are not reacting to program schedules from other outlets.” NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller said, “We don’t look at what other guys are doing when we program our channel. We want to give our shows time to find their audiences.” Miller “highlighted ‘ProFootball Talk,’ which covers the NFL, and ‘Crossover,’ which features a well-known host in Michelle Beadle, as shows that he wants to give time to grow” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue).
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