SPORTS LANDSCAPE ALTERED WITH FOX/LIBERTY-CABLEVISION DEAL
Fox/Liberty Networks and Cablevision's Rainbow Media
today announced the formation of a national sports
programming venture where Fox/Liberty will pay $850M for a
40% stake in Cablevision's RSNs, its MSG teams and
properties. The deal will allow Fox Sports Net (FSN) to
reach 55 million homes through 17 combined RSNs. The deal
will also provide national and regional advertisers with a
"one-stop-shopping" vehicle to reach sports viewers. The
venture will also explore additional national sports
programming opportunities. In addition, Fox will also
manage Rainbow's new American Sports Classics network. In a
separate move, Cablevision named Marc Lustgarten as Chair of
the Board of Directors at MSG (Fox Sports Net).
REAX: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Hettrick & Collier write
that the SportsChannel nets in Chicago, S.F., Philadelphia,
New England, Ohio and MSG Network in New York, "would offer
Fox Sports Net [FSN] programming for the first time."
Hettrick & Collier: "Most of the SportsChannel networks
would take on the names of the existing regions; however,
names for the two New York sports channels have not been
set." Although "sources at Rainbow" say the management of
the SportsChannel networks "will not change, it's believed"
that Fox Sports Net CEO David Hill and Fox TV Group CEO
Chase Carey "would have a strong hand in the operation that
would compete with ESPN and TNT for national sports cable
program packages, and more importantly, national sports
advertising" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/23). In N.Y., Kelly &
Furman write that the deal creates "a strong challenger" to
ESPN, while ad agencies say "that the arrival of [News Corp.
Chair Rupert] Murdoch as a major player in the New York
sports TV scene could lead to an adprice war" (N.Y. DAILY
NEWS, 6/23). The N.Y. POST's Jon Elsen reported that
sources close to the venture "downplay the importance of
bulking up their national programming quickly." The new
network "would expand its national Fox Sports News ... and
then build gradually." One source: "The strength remains
with the local programming" (N.Y. POST, 6/22).