Freer, Fox Get Ready for FS1 Launch
Randy Freer, Fox Sports Media Group, co-president and COO, discussed the final sprint towards the launch of FS1 on August 17 and also answered a key question during the B&C Sports Business & Technology Summit: why?
“I get asked that a lot but there is a simple and logical answer,” he said. “If you look back a few years and at the rights landscape, all of the rights agreements were going to be redone. So we could look and see that we could acquire enough rights to go out and add something that adds value and is an asset for Fox going forward.”
While the pressure may be high, Freer says that enthusiasm inside the company is as well.
“We’re in good shape, partially because we have been producing events for a long time and have the staff to rely on to produce pre-game shows and content in other areas,” he explained. “That puts us in a good place.”
Freer also tackled the sensitive topic of the role sports networks play in driving up the cost of cable for subscribers who may not be sports fans.
“There are a lot of things on cable that I don’t watch and that I pay for so the theory that it is all about sports is ridiculous,” he explained. “Sports are relevant and there are markets where the regional sports networks are in the top two or three stations in the outlet. In cities like St. Louis or Detroit they beat the three broadcast networks. And must-have content cannot cost too much.”
Freer pointed to the changes in the top 100 highest-rated programs from when Fox got into the sports business in 1992 and today. In 1992, 19 of the top 100 highest-rated programs were sports related. Today? More than 75.
“And a lot of those are NFL games,” he said. “The NFL is an incredible TV product that continues to grow and be a staple of viewing habits.”
This season, Fox Sports finds itself with the NFL’s biggest event: the Super Bowl. For the first time ever the Super Bowl will be played in an outdoor, cold weather location: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. While the Fox production team figures out how to have operations in Manhattan (where many of the pre-game festivities will happen) and at MetLife Stadium during that week, others are figuring out how and if the Super Bowl will be available to those without access to a TV.
“We would love to able to look at streaming the Super Bowl on an authenticated basis,” added Freer. “The question is, is the market ready to support that? It’s still a question mark to see if TV Everywhere can handle the type of volume and prep work needed for a Super Bowl.”