"Fox Sports Live" Co-Hosts Discuss How Net Is Evolving, What Can Be Expected Going Forward
With FS1 entering its eighth week on the air, SI.com's Richard Deitsch caught up with "Fox Sports Live" co-hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole. The pair was "plucked from Canada's TSN SportsCentre to anchor the highlight portion" of FS1's flagship program. Below are excerpts from the conversation.
Q: How do you view ESPN? Are they head-to-head competition or do you view them through another prism?
Onrait: Of course, they are our competition. It would do us no good to try to emulate anything they did. We have to do it our way and offer an alternative. We've been surprised how well it has gone over, at least in terms of the reaction on Twitter.
O'Toole: I look at them as the figureheads for what they have accomplished and the foothold that they have in the American market. They deserve to be looked at that way. The legwork and all the time they have put into their product, we just want to some day get to that point, and it will take a lot of time. Just to be in the same sentence as ESPN, we are happy with that.
Q: Has your humor translated to the States?
Onrait: Well, I will say this: We are used to being an acquired taste. ... But shockingly, we are surprised that the critics have seemed to enjoy our stuff so far.
O'Toole: A lot of people on Twitter said they did not like us at the start but we have them as fans now. That's exactly how it began in Canada and that's how we see it now -- get one new viewer at a time.
Q: How will Fox Sports Live evolve over the next 6-12 months?
O'Toole: You have already seen it evolve. The first two months we've been on air, we have shaped the show and it is finding its own identity. We are finding things that work, finding things that don't. Where it will be in six months to a year? I have no idea. But I like where it is going. It is more streamlined, focused and the highlights are an integral part of it.
Q: How will -- and should -- Fox Sports Live play hockey?
O'Toole: If you are affiliated with the NHL, people want your product, they want to be associated with it, and that is what the powers that be at Fox Sports are starting to see. NHL fans want to know each and every night that they will get a glimpse of hockey -- not hoping they will see it but knowing they will see hockey highlights.
Onrait: I realize the sport is not as big baseball, football, basketball and college stuff, but the ratings for NBC Sports Network last year were pretty strong and the opening night game on that network was strong. It is a growing sport and this is an area where we can take the reins and carve out a little niche (SI.com, 10/6).