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Fox Sports 1 Gains Ground On ESPN

Jason Barrett

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As the cliché goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For 24/7/365 sports channel FOX Sports 1, the climb to catch ESPN won’t be either, but there are clear signs there is progress being made.

FOX Sports 1 launched in August of 2013 with just a handful of programming options. UFC, NASCAR Trucks, Pac-12 and Big 12 college football and Big East college basketball were the slate on top of studio programming. Trying to go at ESPN with just those offerings was said to be like a restaurant opening with only a portion of its menu available.

In FS1’s second year they added regular and postseason Major League Baseball, the NASCAR Xfinity series and three Sprint Cup races, Gold Cup soccer, Women’s World Cup and USGA events including the US Open to the schedule. In doing so, the total number of sporting events being aired by FS1 rose 17 percent, going from 664 in Year 1 to 779 in Year 2.

That has helped FOX Sports 1 grow in the ratings. FS1 saw an increase 40 percent on total day viewership and 38 percent increase in prime time during the span.  Over the same span, the competition dropped. ESPN was down 9 percent for total day, and down 2 percent in prime time viewership, ESPN2  was down -3%/-12% while, NBCSN  came in at -19%/+2%.

For live programming, the results are more impressive. FS1 is up 54 percent over the same span (494,000 viewers vs. 390,000 viewers), and has surpassed ESPN2 and NBCSN to become the clear #2 network for live events behind The Worldwide Leader.

To add, FOX Sports 1’s reach, which is people watching at any point over the last year, is up 11 percent or 9.2 million viewers in FS1’s second year (96 million total viewers vs. 86.8 million).  Meanwhile ESPN’s reach is down 8.9 million (down 5 percent), ESPN2 is down 8.7 million (-6%), and NBCSN is down 6.1 million (-7%) when excluding the Olympics.

The October 15th Game 4 of the NLCS between the Cardinals-Giants posted a FS1-record 5.092 million viewers, breaking the 5 million viewer mark for the first time.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup games on FS1 were winners. The USA-Colombia FIFA WWC Round of 16 match set a new record for men’s or women’s soccer (4.716 million), and is No. 3 on FS1’s all-time list.

The first-ever regularly scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race on FOX Sports 1 set a new record for a motorsports event on FS1, drawing 4.061million viewers which ranked at No. 5 on FS1’s all-time list.

So, is FS1 at a point where they can say they are at or better than ESPN? No. But, as a fledgling network goes, if FOX Sports 1 continues to grow at the pace it has, it should catch ESPN in a few short years. That should make ESPN look over their shoulder, and give FOX Sports added incentive to provide good programming to allow them to compete in not only Year 3 of FS1, but beyond.

Credit to Forbes who originally published this article

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Pac-12 Networks Content Could Be Headed To ACC Network

“Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages.”

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ESPN has been at the center of a lot of conversations about the future of college sports following the Big Ten plucking UCLA and USC out of the Pac-12. The network could be part of a broadcasting partnership that is meant to secure the futures of the Pac-12 and the ACC.

In a joint report for Sports Illustrated, Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde write that the two conferences would not merge, but that the ACC Network could get renamed and include content centered on both conferences.

A deal like this would pay dividends for all involved. The ACC would get more TV revenue and the Pac-12 would get broader distribution that it had with its proprietary Pac-12 Networks, which was reportedly struggling to even stay afloat. It could also secure the conference’s future as some members consider leaving for the Big 12. As for ESPN, this deal would put them back in business with the Pac-12.

A programming alliance between the two conferences could create some marquee non-conference matchups for football and basketball. That would give ESPN event programming to promote and sell.

Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages. They write that “those briefed on the ACC–Pac-12 proposal believe it has plenty of hurdles to clear and details to be ironed out before becoming a reality.”

The obvious question all parties involved will want to be answered is would merging ACC Network and Pac-12 Networks content generate enough new revenue to make the move viable. Sources told Sports Illustrated that it is what they will be focused on if talks progress.

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UFC Draws Record Ratings for UFC 276 Prelims on ESPN and ABC

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

Jordan Bondurant

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UFC, ESPN and ABC have plenty to celebrate following this weekend’s UFC 276 pay-per-view.

Ratings for the preliminary card show a combined audience of 1.8 million tuned in across ABC and ESPN. ABC drew 929,000 viewers for their portion of the card, which marked the first time UFC aired in primetime on the network.

ESPN drew 871,000 in the lead-up to the main card from Las Vegas.

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

UFC will return to ABC on July 16 but won’t air in primetime. Coverage of UFC Fight Night from UBS Arena on Long Island will air in the afternoon.

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Brian Windhorst Explains What Was Behind His Viral Rant

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Jordan Bondurant

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There wasn’t a ton of NBA free agency news leading into the long holiday weekend last week, but what news there was became wildly more interesting thanks to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Windhorst, appearing on First Take on Friday, went on an entertaining rant about the Utah Jazz trading Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn, throwing tidbits out there that insinuated more was to come.

The monologue went viral and became the subject of plenty of memes.

Talking on his podcast Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, Windhorst explained that the ‘A’ block of First Take is 30 minutes long, much different than the other ESPN shows he appears on. He said he approached it from a podcasting perspective and added that First Take was really the only place he could’ve pulled something like that off given a multitude of factors.

“It had to have occurred on a show like that,” Windhorst said. “So I was able to kind of draw out and kind of have a conversation about the Utah Jazz.”

Windhorst said he knew the Jazz were going to trade Rudy Gobert, which happened not long after his rant started circulating the internet. But he said he needed to avoid tipping others in the media off or potentially even wrecking the trade before it became official.

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Windhorst said he knew he was becoming the subject of many a meme, but after being on the road so long and away from home covering the NBA playoffs, he didn’t really have a chance to relish in the moment.

“I came back home and had nonstop family stuff to do, and they didn’t care about any of that,” he said. “I was getting like 250 text messages and seeing all these memes, but I had to prepare for the people we had coming over for the 4th of July. I couldn’t really focus on it.”

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