My apologies for not posting the Weekend Viewing Picks and other stuff. My power went out thanks to the Blizzard of 2013 and I also had to deal with two downed trees, one lying across my driveway, so you can imagine me going stir crazy over blocked access, no heat, no power, NO WIFI and a full driving ban in Rhode Island. Luckily, a very gracious neighbor with a chain saw cut me out and the driving ban was lifted enabling me to escape from a heatless house and go to a relative’s house where I’m writing this post.
You deserve some sports media thoughts so it’s fine time you get them now. As always, they come in bullet form.
- I know the soccer community is up in arms over Gus Johnson being named as Fox’s international soccer voice. Yes, Fox can tap Martin Tyler from its UK brother, Sky Sports, but Fox chose to go with an American voice. Now, I was with the soccer community back in 2006 when ESPN chose a heavily miscast Dave O’Brien to be its main voice for the FIFA World Cup in Germany. I can remember listening to World Soccer Daily during the month-long event killing O’Brien. A lot of it was deserved and stinging from the criticism, ESPN chose UK announcers like Tyler, Ian Darke, Adrian Healy and Derek Rae. And while they all did a very good job, long-time ESPN soccer voice JP Dellacamera was jettisoned to radio to call many games off a monitor.
While I understand many in the soccer community who feel the Fox move with Johnson is destined to fail, I’m keeping an open mind here. Gus has called a share of San Jose Earthquakes MLS games over the last two years, plus he has traveled to Europe to learn the nuances of international soccer, spending time with Martin Tyler, something ESPN did not do with O’Brien, allowing him to be thrown to the wolves.
Gus will call his first international soccer contest this week on Fox Soccer. He won’t win over fans when he does Real Madrid vs. Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, but he does have time to buy some credibility before he does his first World Cup game. Let’s hope he does.
- We now know Fox’s cable sports strategy coming later this year. Sometime in August, Speed becomes Fox Sports 1 airing college basketball, college football, MLB, NASCAR, soccer and UFC. Fuel will transition to Fox Sports 2 airing overflow events plus some extreme sports. Fox Soccer will rebrand to FX2 and will be completely out of the sports business. Got it? Good.
Fox has done this quietly and without fanfare. We’ve found out about Fox Sports 1 and 2 through the reporting by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. Fox Sports officials aren’t confirming things, but they aren’t denying them either. You’ve seen some of the things they plan on doing on FX with college football/MMA doubleheaders, UEFA Champions League games and other action. All that moves to FS 1 & 2 in August and FX and FX2 will solely be entertainment channels.
Fox is positioning itself quite well and if it is able to obtain the rights to the breakout “Catholic 7,” the basketball-only schools from the Big East that plan on formulating in 2014, then Fox Sports 1 & 2 will be in very good shape for years to come.
- Speaking of the Big East, the same story I linked to above mentions that NBC Sports Network is offering the conference $20-23 million annually over six years. ESPN can match that offer, but will it? Knowing how much the Big East has been poached over the years, plus knowing the “Catholic 7″ will bolt in 2014, is the league still attractive? But ESPN could match to ensure NBCSN is shut out from the major conferences, if the Big East is still considered a major conference.
- I don’t know her name, but I enjoy the give-and-take, back-and-forth rivalry I have the Twitter account known as Har Journalist. She’s in Vancouver and has a blog devoted to sports with a slant towards the MLS’ Whitecaps. It’s a very good site and one that will keep you up to date on the Whitecaps. But I warn you, criticize her Canucks at your own risk. I criticize the Canucks to rile Har Journalist and she always replies in kind. It’s all in good fun.
Those are your sports media thoughts.