FS1’s cancellation of America’s Pregame on Tuesday didn’t surprise too many people that have looked at the show’s ratings lately. And considering the addition of ex-ESPNer Jamie Horowitz as Fox Sports programming czar, this next statement also shouldn’t come as a surprise – FS1 is looking to add a show in the afternoon window that is “more conversational” and “more opinionated”.
Aw hell yeah! Fox is embracing debate!
From Sports Business Daily’s story on the cancellation…
Dixon said Fox is looking for a show in that timeslot to be more conversational with hosts that are more opinionated. “We’re looking to explore more opinion-based generalists who can speak every sport and have the conversations that every sports fan is having,” Dixon said.
The word “generalists” is what should get your ears burning, though. APG featured plenty of “conversational” segments – hell, most of the damn show featured one of the hosts (Mike Hill or Molly McGrath) talking with an analyst or group of analysts. And the segments could get heated at times – it’s not as if everyone that appeared on the show would share their opinions, smile, and nod.
But those analysts that would show up on APG were sport-specific. Ephraim Salaam and Peter Schrager would talk about the NFL. Joel Klatt and Dave Wannstedt would talk about college football. Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton would talk about soccer.
A generalist is a jack of all trades, but master of none. You see them in spades at ESPN. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith are the most prominent examples. But so are people like Dan Le Batard, Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Michael Smith. They may have their preferred sports, but they’re not ex-jocks who thrive when talking about one and only one sport.
Fox tried the generalist thing with everyone talking about everything, and it was a spectacular failure with the Fox Sports Live panel and Crowd Goes Wild. But maybe, just maybe, the idea can work with different people. Jason Gay did a good job on Crowd Goes Wild talking about most everything, but he may not be opinionated enough for the new brass at Fox. Colin Cowherd is obviously going to be the guy everyone brings up to fill a role in this yet to be constructed new show. After popping up on FS1 this month, Rob Parker could be a guy that gets a look.
The idea *can* work. PTI and Around the Horn have thrived for years with “generalists” front and center, as have shows like SportsNation and Highly Questionable. But whenever the phrase “more opinionated” pops up, our initial thoughts go to “loud people with hot takes yelling at each other”…and we really don’t need any more shows like that on the airwaves.