On Monday The Mike Francesa Show made its national debut on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. While Francesa is definitely a polarizing figure, and his national appeal still remains a question mark, I think the show will end doing more good than harm for Fox.
Right from the show’s open, it was clear that this would be different from the usual array of content featured on Fox Sports 1.
In that opening, an interesting little factoid popped up – Time Warner Cable still doesn’t offer Fox Sports 2. While that doesn’t seem like a huge deal on the surface, TWC is one of the dominant cable providers in New York City. Francesa’s Mongos might have an impact on getting TWC to pick up FS2 nationally, which would likely lead to Comcast also picking up the channel when the two cable behemoths complete their merger later this year. How much of a win would that be for Fox? Add Francesa, get even more carriage for FS2. Of course, that’s probably something that will end up happening further off in the distance.
Francesa also took a shot at Keith Olbermann, which I’m sure made his superiors at Fox smirk (though let’s be honest – Olbermann’s show, even in its numerous timeslots on numerous channels, will crush Francesa in the ratings day after day). It’s not every day you see a network upload a clip of one of their personalities attacking a rival, but that’s exactly what Fox did here.
But what about the show itself – is this local radio simulcast something that can thrive nationally? It will be tough, but I think it can. Francesa doesn’t hide the fact that he’s based out of the New York metro area and is a New York homer. He’s not going to sit there and pretend he can break down the inner workings of say, the Minnesota Wild, the Atlanta Braves, or the Oakland Raiders. Since its launch last August, Fox Sports 1 has been mainly focused on the west coast of the country, with nearly every show on the network based out of Los Angeles.
I think everyone knows what they’re getting out of Francesa and his show at this point. He’s not going to reinvent the wheel, but he *will* provide Fox with daily, original coverage that is likely going to draw better ratings than the replays of live games that Fox Sports 1 had been airing since its launch. Really, that’s a big positive for Fox – adding more live, daytime content is something that they desperately needed to do, and even if Francesa isn’t a massive hit, he’ll do enough to draw the New York audience along with some curious viewers from other locations.