FX Wants to Get Into Sports. Hey, We’re a Sport!

From Melissa Grego of Broadcasting & Cable:

There is only one thing FX Networks President-General Manager John Landgraf doesn’t have that could afford his network a shot at challenging his basic cable rivals for the top of the ratings chart: sports. 

“I’d love to have a major sports franchise,” Landgraf says. “It’s just a question of which one, and how do you make the economics work? If you look at FX versus TNT to date, we’re up 5%; they’re probably up 4% or 5%. But look at them without sports. Entertainment to entertainment, they’re down 7%; we’re up 5.”

Right now, FX has no plans underway to acquire a major sports property. If one becomes available, the question for the network is whether it can acquire sports in a way that would be profitable, according to Landgraf. “There are a lot of guys at News Corp., from David Hill and Ed Goren to Chase Carey and Tony [Vinciquerra], who know a heck of a lot more about the sports business than I do. So, it’s not going to be my decision,” he says. “It’s a very, very big business decision to go after a major sports package, and it’s not going to be made at my level. I’ll be consulted along the way, but it will be made for big, strategic reasons.”

But he definitely has an opinion. “Am I ambitious for FX—would I like to see us challenge the top three general-entertainment networks in 18-49, and would sports help us do that?” Landgraf adds. “Yeah, it would.”

You might look at this as really lazy writing, but why not?  FOX has been rumored to be interested in the hockey packages as late as this January.  The NHL is likely going to put all of their TV rights up for sale in 2011.  Sell it all to FOX/FX.  It’d be difficult logistically at times, since you’d have to schedule programming on nights where FX doesn’t air it’s various original series, which usually air at 10PM ET.  

But FX does have a history of hockey.  Back in 1996, they won exclusive rights to the World Cup.  Hopefully we’ll have another bidder for hockey rights in 2011 to drive up the action.

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6 Responses to FX Wants to Get Into Sports. Hey, We’re a Sport!

  1. John says:

    Is the reason why the NHL doesn’t do multiple cable networks, due to the possibility of lower ratings? If there are more games on TV, then would a national cable broadcast seem less special and less people would tune in? Sorry if thats a dumb thought, but thats the only justification I can think of, for the NHL having a cable exclusive clause in their tv deals.

  2. e says:

    I think it would be great for the NHL to get back on Fox and have the FX network for cable. It would be great cross promotion for the league.
    Here’s how I would do it:
    FX would televise games every Saturday and Monday night. Saturday night would be doubleheaders each week, with a hockey night america studio show. FX would televise the All star game on a Tuesday night (NHL should never waste a weekend for the All Star games).
    Fox coverage would begin on Jan 1 with the outdoor game.
    They would begin their weekly coverage on Saturday’s throughout January. THere would be early 1pm start times to lead into their NFL playoff coverage.
    Once the NFL is over, the NHL on Fox would take place every Sunday at 3pm for the rest of the season. There would be 2 regional games per week, with a few national games (Penguins-Caps,, etc.)
    Announcing team would be the following:
    Fox:
    Studio show- Deb Kaufman and Butch Goring- These 2 spent time together on the New York Islanders pre and post game shows. They were terrific together. It would be great for Fox to have a female host for hockey. Deb is as knowledgeable as they come, and she has hosted NHL Live as well.
    1. Kenny Albert, Jeremy Roenick, and Mark Messier- Time for some new blood with the announcers. Having Roenick and Messier in the booth would add some spice to the broadcast. Kenny Albert is a pro who grew up with hockey. No more Emrick, and definitely no more Ed Olczyck
    2. Sam Rosen and Denis Potvin – Sam is old pro who has been at Fox forever. Denis Potvin did a great job broadcasting for the Florida Panthers.
    FX broadcasters:
    1. John Kelly and Brian Engblom- Kelly has a great voice in the tradition of his father. Engblom is a great analyst.

  3. Patrick says:

    “Once the NFL is over, the NHL on Fox would take place every Sunday at 3pm for the rest of the season. ”

    Why would FOX give up NASCAR in favor of the NHL?

  4. Joel says:

    Fox has too many sports to try to fit the NHL in. Once the NFl ends they have NASCAR, and then MLB begins right before the playoffs.

  5. Chris B says:

    Fox has room on their schedule if they show games on Saturday afternoons. From January to early April they have nothing on Saturdays, and once baseball season starts, they can show the NHL games at 1 PM, seeing how they’ve started to schedule their MLB telecasts at 4 PM this season.

    As for the FX Original Series, they all start at 10 PM, meaning they could air an east coast game at 7 PM on any night, and a west coast game on any night they don’t have one of their original series going, leaving the possibility open for doubleheaders.

    My plan would be this:

    Fox:

    – Winter Classic
    – Game of the Week every Saturday at 1 PM (They can regionalize this if they want, but the 1 PM start would be very inconvenient if they want to show a game from the west)
    – A playoff game every weekend throughout the first three rounds.
    – The entire Stanley Cup Final, which they apparently wanted before the NHL went with ABC/ESPN

    FX:

    – Monday Night Game; the schedule would be made so that there are few other games played that night, if any
    – Thursday Night Doubleheader; many teams play on Thursday, meaning they’d have many games to pick from and could do so a few weeks in advance to make showing a good matchup more likely
    – A Sunday night game following the NFL playoffs
    – All Star Game and Skills Competition
    – Wall to wall playoff coverage through the first three rounds, including exclusive national coverage of the Conference Finals (besides the games Fox shows)
    – During the first two rounds of the playoffs, an alternate game from one of the local FSN broadcasts, if available, will be shown if the game is blacked out in your region

    The lead play by play announcer can be anybody not named Joe Beninati, but the likely guys to call games for Fox would be Doc Emrick, Kenny Albert and Sam Rosen, seeing how the latter two are currently employed by the network and Doc was their previous lead announcer.

    As for the color commentary, they should think outside the box. I like the Jeremy Roenick idea but they should also try and land Darren Pang for a between the benches role.

  6. Danimal says:

    I don’t really see FOX/FX getting involved since they do have NASCAR, and traditionally have aimed to NOT have sports on both Saturday and Sunday- so the affiliates can have one of those afternoons to program as they please. And I still think the outcome of Olympic bidding this year or next will have an impact, especially with regards to NBC.

    As for the idea of multiple networks, you have to be careful not to devalue the packages you create for them. TBS’ baseball package gets weak regular-season numbers (granted, ESPN always has the first choice of game on Sundays) compared to ESPN and FOX. The NBA’s packages on TNT and ESPN have good years and not-so-good years, but TNT almost having exclusivity on Thursdays really makes it a little more stable…

    Games on the league-owned networks are a bit different since they are or will eventually become almost pure profit for the teams, plus, aside from the NFL, games are always blacked out locally to protect the RSNs.

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