UPDATED: FOX’s announcement today that its Speed Channel will be rebranded as FOX Sports 1 this August means that FOX Soccer’s days as a 24/7 soccer network are numbered.
FOX Sports 1 will launch as a 24/7 sports network on August 17, 2013. The long rumored news was made official today in a presentation in New York City. FOX Sports 1 will debut in approximately 90 million homes and will show international soccer games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. The FOX Sports 1 network will also broadcast NASCAR, college basketball, college football and UFC.
In those mid-afternoon slots on FOX Sports 1, the network will take over all of FOX Soccer’s rights packages and will broadcast UEFA Champions League and Europa League games, as well as 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments. Plus, FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the CONCACAF Champions League, the FA Cup, Gold Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup.
FOX Sports 1 will also show “delayed matches in prime time; weekly magazine and highlights shows,” according to a FOX Sports statement.
Beginning this August, NBC Sports will be the rights holder to the Premier League on US TV. FOX Soccer lost the rights, which dealt a massive blow to the network that has the Premier League as its anchor programming.
FOX will also be launching a FOX Sports 1 online experience. According to FOX, “Launching together with FOX Sports 1 will be FOX Sports GO – a groundbreaking mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and web. FOX Sports Go will offer more than 1,000 live games and events from across FOX Sports, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats, and analysis. The live games and events will be available to subscribers of participating cable, satellite, and telco providers at no additional cost.”
FOX added that “In addition to live events and studio programs, FS1 introduces FOX SPORTS LIVE, a 24/7 news franchise providing around-the-clock coverage through regularly scheduled programs, hourly updates and an information-rich ticker.”
The launch of FOX Sports 1 is an attempt by FOX to become the number one sports network in the United States against stiff competition from ESPN, beIN SPORT and NBC.
Co-president of Fox Sports Media Group Randy Freer said in The Wall Street Journal that FOX Soccer will likely be rebranded into another kind of network, with announcement coming as soon as later this year. The company is considering rebranding the niche Fox Soccer channel to an entertainment network, such as a second FX channel.
FOX Soccer launched 17 years ago on November 1, 1997 as FOX Sports World. The network launched with an array of programming including soccer, cricket, darts and rugby before becoming Fox Soccer Channel in 2005 and morphing into FOX Soccer in 2011.
Since the 1998-99 season, FOX Soccer has televised Premier League matches along with ESPN, FOX Deportes and Setanta Sports.
EPL Talk is awaiting comment from FOX Soccer and FOX Sports regarding the news.