When Fox signed the Big East Conference to fill college basketball slots on Fox Sports 1 during the winter, the network was hoping it would bring viewers and help to build the new network as the original Big East did in the early days of ESPN. Well so far, the numbers show that the Big East has to catch on with viewers.
Two Big East games on Fox proper (Providence-St. John’s in late January and Northwestern-Butler in December) have drawn fewer than 400,000 viewers, the lowest audiences ever for college basketball on broadcast television. According to Sports Media Watch, two recent CBS games drew at least one million viewers.
As for Fox Sports 1, the Big East isn’t attracting eyeballs either. While some games are seeing audiences over 100,000 and 200,000 viewers, ESPN has seen two of its games top over 3 million viewers and others over 2.5 million.
Fox Sports 1 had games like Marquette-St. John’s draw about 107,000 viewers and 82,000 for DePaul-Seton Hall.
In addition, Fox Sports 1 had games like St. John’s Providence last month average 48,000 viewrs, DePaul-Creighton early in January garner an average of 77,000 and a Creighton-Georgetown game just after the New Year had 58,000 viewers.
In 2013, Fox and the Big East signed a 12-year $500 million contract hoping the conference would be tentpole programming. Last season, the Big East on Fox Sports 1 averaged only 95,000 viewers. Fox is hoping it will do better numbers this season, but with small audiences, the Big East does not appear to be the draw that it used to be, at least at this point of its contract with Fox.