Fox Sports 1
2015 Fox Sports 1 logo.svg
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaUnited States
Puerto Rico
Caribbean
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture format720p HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SD feed)
2160p UHD
(selected pay TV partners and via digital media player apps during selected events)
Ownership
OwnerFox Sports Media Group
(Fox Corporation)
Sister channelsFox Sports 2
Fox Soccer Plus
Fox Deportes
Big Ten Network
History
LaunchedAugust 17, 2013; 9 years ago (2013-08-17)
ReplacedSpeed
Links
Websitewww.foxsports.com/live/fs1
www.foxsports.com
Availability
Streaming media
Fox Sports appWatch live
(U.S. only)
Fox NowWatch live
(U.S. cable internet subscribers only; requires login to stream content)
DirecTV Stream, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV

Fox Sports 1 (FS1) is an American pay television channel owned by the Fox Sports Media Group, a unit of Fox Corporation.[1] FS1 replaced the motorsports network Speed on August 17, 2013, at the same time that its companion channel Fox Sports 2 replaced Fuel TV.[2] Both FS1 and FS2 carried over most of the sports programming from their predecessors, as well as content from Fox Soccer, which would then be replaced by the entertainment-based channel FXX on September 2, 2013.

FS1 airs an array of live sporting events, including Major League Baseball, college sports (most notably Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 football, and Big East basketball), soccer matches (including Major League Soccer, Liga MX, and Copa Libertadores), United States Golf Association championship events, combat sports, and a variety of motorsports events. FS1 also features daily sports news, analysis and discussion programming as well as sports-related reality and documentary programs.

The network is based primarily from the Fox Sports division's headquarters on Fox Studio Lot in the Century City section of Los Angeles, California, though the network also has significant broadcast operations in New York City, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina (the latter of which had served as Speed's home base).

As of September 2018, Fox Sports 1 is available to approximately 83.3 million pay television households (90.3% of households with cable) in the United States.[3]

Background

Development

In March 2012, reports began circulating that Fox Entertainment Group had plans to launch a national Fox Sports cable network by August 2013 known as Fox Sports 1, giving the sports division a dedicated cable presence to better compete against established networks like ESPN.[4] Fox was already a major force in cable sports programming, having operated several niche channels such as Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes, Fuel TV and Fox College Sports. Also in its portfolio were the Fox Sports Networks, a group of regional sports networks both owned by Fox outright or by other companies through affiliation agreements with FSN; in addition to carrying play-by-play rights to several local sports teams, these regional networks also featured common national content produced and distributed by Fox Sports, including national college sports broadcasts and specialty programs such as The Best Damn Sports Show Period and Baseball's Golden Age.

Though this local/national hybrid approach gave Fox prominence at the local sports level, it was somewhat disadvantaged as its flagship over-the-air network had the distinction of being the only major U.S. broadcast television network not to have a national general sports channel to complement its sports division, unlike ABC (whose corporate parent The Walt Disney Company owns a controlling 80% stake in ESPN), CBS (which operates CBS Sports Network) and NBC (which had run NBCSN).

The reports indicated that Fox planned on converting one of these niche sports channels, Speed – which focused on auto racing and other motorsports, as well as motorsports-related specialty programs, into the new Fox Sports 1 due to its established reach on U.S. pay television providers (Speed maintained a subscriber base of 81 million homes with cable, IPTV or satellite service by 2012), which would result in the reduction of the channel's commitment to NASCAR and other motorsports coverage.[5]

Further supporting this theory, reports surfaced in January 2013 that Fox Soccer would be relaunched as FXX, a general entertainment network that would be spun off from FX and would feature comedy series and feature films; such reports were confirmed when the channel's planned launch was officially announced by Fox Entertainment Group on March 28, 2013.[6][7] In October 2012, Speed altered its on-air logo bug to include the Fox Sports logo above its own, which was believed to indicate a step towards this replacement.[8] Fox Sports would officially confirm the conversion of Speed into Fox Sports 1 in an announcement on March 5, 2013.[9]

Despite being established well after ESPN (which launched in 1979), and the NBC- and CBS-owned sports networks (which respectively launched in 1996 and 2003 under different ownership and branding), Fox Sports 1, even before commencing programming, has been seen as a legitimate and serious competitor to ESPN,[9] in part due to three factors:

Fox Sports executives see Fox Sports 1 as "an alternative to the establishment", much as the Fox Broadcasting Company was to other broadcast networks in the 1980s and Fox News Channel was to CNN in the 1990s. In terms of growth, Fox Entertainment Group acknowledged that Fox Sports 1 would start modestly and not be competitively equal with ESPN right out of the gate; however, the company foresees the network growing incrementally, believing that the channel will be on-par with its senior competitor within a few years of its launch.[12] Viewership figures for the end of 2019, however, showed FS1 over 1.4 million viewers behind ESPN and even trailing NBCSN by 17,000.[13]

Launch and carriage

Original logo, used full-time from August 17, 2013, to May 2015; currently used as an alternate logo.
Original logo, used full-time from August 17, 2013, to May 2015; currently used as an alternate logo.

Fox Sports 1 formally launched on August 17, 2013, at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time, with the following introduction:

Good morning and welcome to the very first day of Fox Sports 1. Here on America's new sports network, our promise to you is that we will share your passion for the game, never take ourselves too seriously, and, most importantly, never put ourselves above the game nor the athletes. We will be informative without ever sacrificing accuracy. We work for you, the fan, and every day we will live up to this simple promise. Now let's get on with the show.

The launch day featured 16½ hours of live sports coverage,[15] including NASCAR coverage during the late morning and afternoon (highlighted by a Camping World Truck Series qualifying round and race), five hours of UFC bouts in the evening (the main event of the Fight Night card being a match between Maurício Rua and Chael Sonnen), and the premiere of the sports news and discussion show Fox Sports Live following the conclusion of the UFC event.[16][17]

Although marketed as a relaunch of Speed, Fox Sports 1 was contractually considered to be a new channel; due to its change in scope from automotive and motorsports to mainstream sports, Fox was required to reach new deals with providers for them to carry the network. At first, Fox sought a higher carriage fee as well, estimated at 80¢ per subscriber (more than triple the subscriber fee of 23¢ that Speed had commanded; by comparison, ESPN pulls in fees of approximately $5.00 per subscriber, the most expensive fee of any pay television network).[11][18] Concerns by providers over the increasing costs for cable and satellite services for their customers (largely believed to be partly due to the higher fees commanded by certain sports channels) resulted in Fox backing off charging the 80¢ per subscriber rate, instead charging the same 23¢ rate that those providers paid to carry Speed.[19][20] For any remaining providers that had not reached a deal to carry Fox Sports 1, Fox planned to offer a version of Speed with limited programming on an interim basis until a deal was reached, in order to fulfill existing contracts that required Fox to provide a motorsports channel.[21]

Carriage deals were made by the launch date with all major cable and satellite providers, including cable/telco providers Comcast, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Cable One and Time Warner Cable, as well as satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.[22] The deals with Time Warner, Dish and DirecTV – which were announced just days before FS1's launch – were seen as crucial to the network, as those three providers had a combined reach of over 40 million households, nearly half the goal of 90 million homes that FS1 set for its launch.[18]

International markets that previously received the U.S. version of Speed (such as Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico) did not gain access to Fox Sports 1 upon its relaunch; in Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission permitted the carriage of Speed as a foreign service, but Fox did not seek carriage of FS1 in that country (some of the sports event programming that Fox Sports 1 holds the broadcast rights to carry already air in that country on domestic sports networks such as TSN and Sportsnet). A version of Speed remains operational for these markets (now known as Fox Sports Racing), airing a lineup of past Speed reality shows, and coverage of NASCAR and other motorsports events simulcast with Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2.[23] In early 2014, some major Canadian service providers began to drop the channel upon the expiration of their contractual rights to carry Speed.[24][25]

Post-launch

In 2015, Fox Sports 1 added coverage of selected NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, USGA championship events, FIFA tournaments, and Major League Soccer. In July of that year (coinciding with the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup), the network began to phase out use of the full "Fox Sports 1" name and logo from on-air and promotional usage, identifying the network as simply "FS1" with a new wordmark logo. A representative for Fox Sports stated that was intended to streamline the channel's marketing, and reflect common usage.[26]

On July 14, 2015, Fox Sports reached a long-term agreement with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to broadcast its drag racing events beginning in 2016. Fox's package includes coverage of Friday and Saturday qualifying, and Sunday elimination races for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events (with a minimum of 16 elimination races presented live, and the remainder shown either on weekend afternoons or in primetime; four of the live elimination races will be aired by the main Fox network, with the rest, as well as encores, on FS1 and FS2), and coverage of select NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Sportsman Series events on FS1. The contract succeeded one with ESPN.[27][28]

On March 21, 2018, Fox Sports announced that it had acquired the television rights for the PBA Tour of ten-pin bowling, beginning in 2019 (once again replacing ESPN). 26 broadcasts in the 2019 season are scheduled to air on FS1, with four additional broadcasts to air on the main Fox network.[29]

Programming

Event coverage

Sports programming on FS1 includes the following:

Baseball
Basketball
Boxing
Bowling
College
Dog shows
Futsal
Horse racing
Motorsports
Professional wrestling
Rugby union
Soccer

News and analysis programming

FS1 airs various studio shows mainly involving debating sports topics, especially in the afternoon and early evening.[9] In May 2015, Fox Sports hired Jamie Horowitz, formerly of ESPN, to oversee the channel as Fox Sports' President of National Networks. Following his arrival, FS1 began to pivot its studio programming towards opinion-oriented panel shows similar to those he oversaw on ESPN, and also hired away several notable personalities from ESPN, such as Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd (who were featured on new programs such as Speak for Yourself and Skip and Shannon: Undisputed). Horowitz likened this strategy, which has been referred to as "embrace debate", to that of sister property Fox News Channel; he argued that fewer viewers were watching conventional sports news programs such as SportsCenter due to the ubiquity of online news and highlights, but that there were "record highs" for opinion programs.[40]

After Horowitz's exit from Fox, his replacement Mark Silverman (who came from Big Ten Network) admitted that FS1 had matured and "grown past 'embrace debate'", emphasizing a focus on offering shows that are "smart, entertaining and interesting to sports fans", alongside opinion-based programs.[41]

In September 2018, FS1 premiered a sports betting-related studio program, Lock It In, which featured Clay Travis as well as Vegas bookie Todd Fuhrman, former Jimmy Kimmel Live! sidekick "Cousin Sal" Iacono, and Rachel Bonnetta.[42] The show was renamed Fox Bet Live, to tie it in with the Fox Sports gambling app of the same name. The program would be canceled in 2022.

Daily

Seasonal

Former

Daily/Weekly

Live events

Football
Golf
Motorsports
Soccer

Ratings

Its live events (such as NASCAR races) are beaten in the ratings by ESPN,[55] And the program Undisputed is behind 613,000 viewers to Pardon the Interruption.[56] Live events have still provided FS1 with high ratings.[57][58]

Season averages

The following table shows average season viewership for certain team sports competitions on FS1:

Sports event Season Viewers Reference
College football 2013 529,000 [59]
Major League Soccer 2015 224,000 [60]
College basketball 2013–14 92,790 [59]

Individual events

Major League Baseball

College football

Regular season
Rank Date Matchup Viewers (millions) TV Rating Significance
1 September 3, 2015, 8:30 ET Michigan 17 Utah 24 2.9 1.7
2 October 8, 2016, 12:00 ET Texas 40 #20 Oklahoma 45 2.8 1.7 Red River Showdown
3 November 4, 2017, 4:00 ET #8 Oklahoma 62 #11 Oklahoma State 52 2.5 1.4 Bedlam Series
4 October 14, 2017, 7:30 ET #9 Ohio State 56 Nebraska 14 2.4 1.3
5 October 13, 2018, 12:00 ET Minnesota 14 #3 Ohio State 30 2.4 1.4
6 November 17, 2018, 4:00 ET Indiana 20 #4 Michigan 31 2.3 1.4
7 November 29, 2013, 7:00 ET Oregon State 35 #12 Oregon 36 2.2 1.3 Civil War
8 November 7, 2013, 7:30 ET #7 Oklahoma 12 #5 Baylor 41 2.1 1.3
9 September 2, 2017, 12:00 ET Maryland 51 #23 Texas 41 2.1 1.2
10 October 24, 2020, 3:30 ET #8 Penn State 35 Indiana 36 2.1 1.0
Other Notable Games
Bowl Games
Year Bowl Matchup Viewers (millions) TV Rating
2017 Holiday Bowl #18 Washington State 17 #16 Michigan State 42 1.6 n.a
2018 Holiday Bowl #22 Northwestern 31 #17 Utah 20 1.8 0.9
2019 Holiday Bowl #22 USC 24 #16 Iowa 49 2.5 1.3
2020 Holiday Bowl Cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic

NASCAR Cup Series

Regular season
Rank Date Race Viewers (millions) TV Rating
1 April 3, 2016 STP 500 4.2 2.5
2 March 29, 2015 STP 500 4.1 2.4
3 April 2, 2017 STP 500 4.0 2.3
4 May 15, 2016 AAA 400 Drive for Autism 4.0 2.5
5 June 26, 2016 Toyota/Save Mart 350 3.9 2.4
6 May 31, 2015 Fedex 400 3.9 2.5
7 May 15, 2015 All Star Race 3.8 2.1
8 June 28, 2015 Toyota/Save Mart 350 3.7 2.3
9 June 11, 2017 Pocono 400 3.6 2.2
10 June 7, 2015 Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 3.6 2.3
Other Notable Races

Ultimate Fighting Championship

Soccer

Carriage disputes

In February 2015, Fox Sports 1 became part of a carriage dispute with AT&T U-verse, as Fox Sports Media Group pursued higher carriage fees for the network to cover the cost of sports broadcast rights that had been acquired by the group to fill FS1's schedule since its launch. AT&T declined to accept these additional fees, with a representative for the provider stating that "while it's important to us that we provide our customers with the content they want, we don't believe that it is reasonable to pass on the added costs of carrying this programming to our customer." Rather than pull the channel outright, Fox instead began blacking out certain sporting events carried by FS1 on U-verse, including certain NASCAR, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and college basketball events.[61]

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