ADIOS SPORTSCHANNEL, HOLA FOX SPORTS NET
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).