Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Out-Foxed By NBCSN?

Even though Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN continue to struggle in the all important department of getting people to watch, we are seeing the importance of securing both quality and original content making a difference in how the two networks are going about it.

NBCSN has the ability to attract some new viewers beyond this month as it airs hours of overflow Olympics content from NBC Network. This serves to put this channel on the map for the many who enjoy the Olympics but are not "traditional" sports fans. To its credit, NBCSN is not stopping there.

Since it will begin to air NASCAR events under its new contract no later than July 2015, NBCSN is beginning a Monday through Friday live "NASCAR America" 30-minute studio show in less than two weeks. The debut is scheduled for Monday Feb. 24 at 5 PM ET, to be hosted by Rick Allen, who will serve as the lead NASCAR play-by-play voice, or Leigh Diffley, who handles Formula One and IndyCar play-by-play.  Not wasting any time, the live daily studio show will also feature drivers Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte among its studio analysts.

Of course, adding this studio show isn't going to significantly boost their overall audience, but it is a step in the right direction to provide extended unique programming on a regular basis to a widespread potential audience. This seems more practical for long term growth than adding more college games not quality enough to be on a major sports network.

Having the extensive NHL coverage, including plenty of studio analysis on top of a full slate of national games now provides an average of three nights per week of "quality" live programming through the month of May.

Over at FS1, it's a different story. Maybe carrying some MLB telecasts will help call some attention to their existence, but so far there has not been so much as one telecast date announced. Even that may not create the demand that FS1 seems to be counting on while they believe that if you build it they will come, regardless of quality.

They have no excuse after promoting FS1 numerous times during the Super Bowl only to have ESPN attract nearly TEN times the viewership of FS1 during the post-game period. The fact that the second half of the Super Bowl was boring (to those outside of Seattle) is not an excuse given the comparative percentage that still tuned to ESPN for the wrap up. After all, the Super Bowl post-game coverage on FS1 wasn't even its biggest audience ever for their sportscast, despite coming after the largest promotion the network may EVER receive.

Since then, all we have is the rumor (as of press time) that FS1 could pick up WFAN's Mike Francesa out of New York and simulcast it during the late afternoon. It is live content, but it doesn't mean that those outside of New York actually want even more New York biased sports talk as part of their day.

My thinking is that the only real reason FS1 would put Francesa on FS1 is because Fox Sports is likely to be approved to take over a majority interest in YES, which televises the Yankees and could provide simulcast material for games since FS1 has MLB rights. Thus, they could show x number of Yankees games without additional production costs. And WFAN Radio is now the radio flagship for the Yankees.

The killer from all of this is how ESPN continue to dominate both of these networks, effort or not, even though ESPN could stand to make some improvements. Some fans woudn't mind an alternative on those days when ESPN is somehow fixated on team coverage of Tim Tebow's breakfast or LeBron James' shoe laces.

It's just that content is king, and FS1 and NBCSN seem to have gone on the air without enough of it.

Speaking of New York radio baseball, the Mets begin their flagship switch to WOR in a few days, and the crew of Howie Rose and Josh Lewin appear to be remaining in place for what will be their third season.


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