As much as FS1 has been maligned for laying off staff and pitching buyouts to long-time employees, there is a silver lining in the clouds for the network. In the second quarter of 2016 thus far, FS1 is seeing increased viewership. The network notes that its viewership is up 23% from the same point in the second quarter of 2015. In the coveted 18-49 demographic, FS1 is up 18%.
What has helped is increased live sports including the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Martinsville that was moved from the 1st quarter in 2015 to the 2nd quarter this year. FS1 also added NHRA drag racing on Sunday afternoons this year which had been previously Sunday nights on delay on ESPN/ESPN2. Fox officials note that the there have been viewership increases in NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races plus UFC Fight Night telecasts on the network.
By comparison, ESPN is down in overall viewership by 3% and off 5% in 18-49% at the same point in the second quarter.
So is FS1 turning a corner or is this aberration? Only time will tell, but to see some increased viewership is encouraging to the network. And if it can make its reported daytime debate programming click with the public, then it may be on to something here.
The key for FS1 to survive is live sports programming and while it hasn’t made too many in-roads against ESPN to-date, it still looks for the combination to unlock the Worldwide Leader’s dominance. It’s going to take a while, but in the meantime, they’ll take any victories they can get at this juncture.