Regis Philbin will host new show for Fox sports network
Philbin will host a new weekday sports talk show for the network. It will be Philbin's first new show since 'Live! With Regis and Kelly.'
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"People need to over time feel like there's a channel number in their head that they can go to as an alternative to one of the more powerful sports channels out there," he said.Skip to next paragraph
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Will they watch nightly highlights on something other than "SportsCenter"? FS1 will try to find out with its own news show, which will look more like Fox's NFL pregame coverage than ESPN's cornerstone program.
"We like our position," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "We have always had vigorous competition so there is really nothing substantially new here. Others are, however, beginning to recognize what we have long known: The power of live sports, especially in light of technological advances, is substantial and brings tremendous value in today's entertainment landscape."
ESPN has eight cable networks that combine for almost 30,000 hours of live coverage.
FS1 will be converted from Speed, a motorsports network, and will be available in 90 million homes, compared with 98 million for ESPN and ESPN2.
And in what might seem odd for a company known for drawing a young audience, Regis Philbin will host a weekday sports talk show for the new network. The 81-year-old Philbin jokingly pretended to be hard of hearing when questions came up about this at the news conference.
Wanger noted that "Live! With Regis and Kelly" did well in younger demographics before Philbin left that show in late 2011.
"Regis has appeal from young to old," Wanger said. "That's why we want him."
Fox plans to use its "double box" format for showing commercials during live action for sports events. Kicking off the coverage on Aug. 17 will be a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan and a UFC event in prime time.
Fox executives had talked about potentially launching a sports network for years. As DVRs made live events even more valuable, the timing was right once the company was able to line up enough broadcast rights. And not having a cable sports partner could have hurt the main Fox network in negotiations, Freer said. Fox has used cable channel FX in the past to show some sports.
The network wasn't ready to announce a deal with the new basketball conference formed by breakaway Big East schools, but Fox's executives were happy to talk up the ratings draw the league will provide. Freer called it an "iconic basketball brand" that will immediately be one of the top hoops conferences in the country.
"They're very historic, high-profile teams. The Georgetowns of the world and so on, St. John's, Villanova etc.," Wanger said. "It would be a coup if that deal did happen."
A report by RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank says that while FS1 may not match ESPN right away, it can thrive without doing so. Banks writes that a "modestly successful" venture would more than quadruple Fox's monthly subscriber fees from what Speed received, and increase ad revenue from $90 million to $460 million.
"It's going to take us a while, and we're aware of this fact," Fox Sports Chairman David Hill said. "We're not expecting to knock ESPN off in the first week or two. ... It's going to be a solid slog."
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