Back on August 17, 2013, Fox Sports 1 launched to a lot of fanfare. Also launching on that same date taking over Fuel TV’s spot on many cable and satellite providers was Fox Sports 2. While Fox Sports 1 has received most of the media attention, Fox Sports 2 has been relatively quiet.
Meant to be a compliment to Fox Sports 1, FS2 has mostly aired repeats of FS1 programming. It has been used to air some live programming like NASCAR qualifying, some college basketball, Australian Rules Football, rugby and various UEFA Champions and Europa League games, but it still needs that signature event that will make the network. Fox Sports 2 was used as an overflow channel during the MLB Postseason, however, that did not help fans who didn’t have the network and had to wait to see their team’s games.
When ESPN2 launched in the 1990’s, ESPN put one of the Duke-North Carolina games onto the network to help grow the numbers. This has yet to happen with FS2. And as the network continues to languish, Fox hopes that with six FIFA Women’s World Cup games scheduled for next year, it will bring some new viewers to the network.
The whole issue is numbers. When it took over Fuel’s spot, FS2 was available in over 37 million homes paling in comparison to FS1’s 85 million. And not all of the cable and satellite providers which pick up Fox Sports 2 don’t distribute it in high definition. In this day and age, that is inexcusable, especially when trying to watch the genius of Lionel Messi in standard def during the Champions League. Now that is not Fox’s fault, that is up to the individual carrier to show FS2 in HD.
Fox Sports 1 will have more live programming in 2015 with the aforementioned FIFA Women’s World Cup, MLS, NASCAR and US Open Golf to go with its existing inventory. That helps FS1, but what about FS2? We told you that it will air a small portion of WWC fixtures, but that won’t help the numbers. It needs more live programming like college football games and other mainstream sports.
And while Fox puts some UFC programming to help fill time on the network, it still needs more than that to bring its numbers up. Executives have to make the bold decision to put a must-see event on the network otherwise Fox Sports 2 will remain an afterthought or in some cases, a never-seen.
If Fox wants to schedule some MLB and college football games to force some pickups, that would help, but in the meantime, Fox Sports 2 manages to barely keep its head above water. If Fox executives find the signature event to increase homes, viewers and visibility all at once, it would be seen that the network is serious about growing FS2, but in the meantime, it continues to languish without a bright future.