With the Fox Sports 1 launch just a little over a month away, we're hearing rumblings that its anticipated reach of 90 million homes on August 17 may be in jeopardy. Back in February when Fox officially pulled the covers off its new all-sports cable network, executives giddily announced that they expected to have agreements in place with all of the major providers before the launch.
According to a report in this week's Sports Business Journal, John Ourand reports that three cable and satellite providers, Dish Network, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are still negotiating carriage agreements. Awful Announcing has learned that a fourth provider is also negotiating and perhaps balking at Fox's proposed 80 cents per subscriber cost. In Ourand's report, the deal to carry Fox Sports 1 would eventually increase to $1.50 per subscriber.
Fox Sports officials had been hoping that they would have most of the major providers on board by now so they would have a smooth transition when the switch is flicked to turn the current Speed Channel to Fox Sports 1 next month. However, with increasing sports rights fees being passed to the cable and satellite companies and subsequently to consumers, it's not a surprise to see some pushback. The providers had thought that they would be able to carry Fox Sports 1 at the original cost of Speed until that contract ended, but Fox is apparently trying to reap benefits similar to ESPN, which has the highest per subscriber cost of any cable network.
And with some providers already refusing to pick up various networks like Comcast SportsNet Houston, Pac-12 Networks and Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Fox Sports is feeling the heat as well.
As the launch date approaches, we'll hear of some of the holdouts picking up Fox Sports 1, but don't be surprised to read of one or more refusing to carry it for an extended period. The voyage for Fox Sports 1 is just beginning, but right now, it's currently a bumpy ride. Needless to say, if FS1 was kept off any major distributors when its launch date rolls around it would have a severely negative impact on the channel coming out of the gates.