Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Randy Freer on Thursday "finally let the cat out the bag in regards to the heavily rumored companion net to Fox Sports 1," as Fox Sports 2 will be a "rebrand of Fuel TV," according to Tim Baysinger of BROADCASTING & CABLE. Freer said, "We believe in the value of this approach as it will leverage multiple live events, original and studio programming across both platforms." Freer and FSMG co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks said that they are targeting FS1 "to be profitable by 2016." The two maintained that FS1 will "be available in 90 million homes on the Aug. 17 launch date." However, the net still "has not cut distribution deals with major operators such as Time Warner Cable, Dish or DirecTV." Meanwhile, Shanks added that a main reason for the all sports net was "the ability to leverage it in upcoming rights negotiations" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 8/8). Shanks said, "There is actually limited opportunity to acquire new product until 2017." He added that FS2 programming will include UFC, MLB, NASCAR, Soccer, NFL, USGA, college football and college sports with "more than 4800 hours of live programming planned for the year." Freer said on the RSN side, "We're looking forward to stepping up our interest in YES Network, which we believe will be an excellent addition to our portfolio" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/9).
TIME RUNNING OUT: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass noted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions and the Aug. 17 Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan Int'l Speedway will "be among the live telecasts on the first day Fox Sports 1 goes on air." It is not surprising that carriage negotiations "go down to the wire, but it’s enough to make NASCAR fans nervous as the channel they know as Speed will cease to exist when Fox Sports 1 is launched in its place in about a week." FS1’s "prerace and postrace shows ... are scheduled for Aug. 18," while the net on Aug. 21 is "scheduled to show both truck practices as well as the truck race that night." All Cup and Nationwide practices, as well as Nationwide qualifying Aug. 23 from Bristol, also are "scheduled for" FS1. That is a "good deal of NASCAR content in the first seven days of the new network -- all of which NASCAR fans are in jeopardy of not seeing" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/8).
LET'S TAKE SOME E: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's A.J. Baime reports Formula E has "further solidified its future," as the nascent series announced an agreement with Fox on a multiyear, international multimedia broadcast deal that may be the electric car racing series' "most important to date." Fox will air races "tentatively scheduled" for the streets of Miami, L.A., Beijing, Rome and Rio de Janeiro. The series is planning to stage its first race in September '14, with its "first world champion to be crowned" in '15. The Fox deal brings the races "into homes in nearly 90 countries" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/9).
Televised golf is a "dismal, stale medium desperately in need of fresh blood and new ideas," and Fox' new deal to telecast the U.S. Open "might force other golf broadcasters to elevate their games," according to Martin Kaufmann of GOLFWEEK. Televised golf "isn't a genre that needs more of the same," but rather one that is "crying out for a total makeover." Fox should "start slowly ... by watching a lot of televised golf and asking a lot of questions." Golf needs announcers "who speak less and say more -- in other words, provide analysis and perspective rather than play-by-play." Fox "definitely should call" Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee, who is "far and away the most interesting voice in televised golf, and he has the game for the big stage." On the production side, Fox "should look for bright, ambitious people who want to advance the medium." The net "should seek out people who know and love golf, but also have a track record of innovating when producing other sports." Kaufmann: "I haven’t the slightest clue whether Fox Sports will be good for golf or our national championships. But I’m not going to belittle Fox just because it’s new to professional golf. Many view that as a liability; I think it’s an asset because it might promote a fresh approach" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/8). Golfer Joe Ogilvie wrote on his Twitter account, "While timing was tone deaf, USGA/FOX deal is a game changer. Should be great for golf. Sarah Hirshland is impressive" (TWITTER.com, 8/9). However, in Illinois, Mike Spellman writes, "I like my Open coverage serene enough that a nap is never out of the realm of possibilities, but for some reason I just don't see that happening on Fox." Spellman adds, "Please, please, please no FoxTrax trailing putts like it did pucks years ago" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 8/9).
JOHNNY ANGEL? In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote, "You may admire broadcaster Johnny Miller's candor but you are stunned by his naivete. Or his self-absorption." Part of Miller's comments about the U.S. Open moving from NBC to Fox "was confounding." Wolfley: "Say what, Johnny? You feel badly that the USGA cares more about money than it cares about you?" Money "trumps most other concerns" in media rights deals, and it "most certainly trumps loyalty to network production crews and announcers" (JSONLINE.com, 8/8).
OFF THE FAIRWAY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes TNT during the first 10 minutes of Thursday's opening round coverage of the PGA Championship "showed just two shots -- both taken by Tiger Woods," who at the time was seven shots behind leader Jim Furyk (N.Y. POST, 8/9).
ESPN earned a 3.2 rating and 5.1 million viewers for its telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 last Sunday from Pocono Raceway. Those figures are up 10% and 14%, respectively, from a 2.9 rating and 4.4 million viewers last year. ESPN has now seen gains for its first two NASCAR races of the ’13 season after seeing an increase in audience for the Brickyard 400 two weekends ago.
AROUND THE HORN: FS Detroit earned a 15.5 local rating for the Tigers’ 14-inning win over the Indians on Wednesday night, marking the highest-rated Tigers game this season and second-best ever. The highest-rated game on the RSN remains Tigers-Twins on Sept. 30, 2009, with a 15.6 rating….YES Network drew a 4.3 local rating in N.Y. for Yankees-White Sox on Monday night, which saw the return of 3B Alex Rodriguez. The audience marked the RSN's highest-rated Yankees telecast this season….MLB Network averaged 114,000 viewers on a total-day basis for the week of July 29-Aug. 4, marking the net’s second-best weekly audience ever during the regular season.
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
Pro Football HOF Game: Cowboys-Dolphins
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Final Round
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Third Round
"The PGA Championship: Moments of Glory"
"Prelude to Season's Final Major"
Liga MX: Leon-Club America
Soccer: Guiness Int'l Champions Cup: Real Madrid-Everton
In Miami, Barry Jackson reported ESPN Radio "likely will pick up" WAXY-AM's "The Dan Le Batard Show" in the next few months, "providing a national forum for the market's highest-rated sports talk show." Co-hosts Dan Le Batard and Jon "Stugotz" Weiner "do not plan to change anything from the way they do the show now," and the local station "will continue to air" the program. If a deal is finalized, ESPN Radio would carry the show from 4:00-7:00pm ET, followed by a national show with Jorge Sedano and Mark Schlereth. Le Batard and Weiner from 3:00-4:00pm "would do a show only for" the WAXY audience (MIAMIHERALD.com, 8/8).
GUY ON A BUFFALO: Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret said of his decision to retire after three more seasons with the team, "Like everybody else, when you hit 70 you start slowing down. This is a nice, soft landing spot for me. They were so very gracious to offer it to me. I’m delighted. I don’t know if you’d call it a golden parachute, but I couldn’t be happier" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/9).
TAKING SHOTS? In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes former MLBer Jack Clark "has come out swinging hard" in his first week as a co-host on WGNU-AM, accusing Albert Pujols "of using performance enhancing drugs." Clark said he was told by Pujols' former personal trainer Chris Mihlfeld that he had "shot him up" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/9).
NOTES: Longtime Ft. Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway is "retiring from KESN-FM at the end of the year" after an "almost three-decade run in local radio" (DALLASNEWS.com, 8/8)....Former Tampa Bay Times Buccaneers reporter Stephen Holder "has been added to The Indianapolis Star's Colts coverage team" (INDYSTAR.com, 8/8).