In one of the most shocking sports media moves of 2017, President of Fox Sports National Networks Jamie Horowitz has been forced out. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand tweeted the news:
BREAKING: Jamie Horowitz, President of National Networks for FOX Sports, will be leaving FOX Sports effective immediately.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 3, 2017
I regret to inform you that Jamie Horowitz, President of National Networks for FOX Sports, will be leaving FOX Sports effective immediately. We realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision.
Everyone at FOX Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times. These values are non-negotiable.
Until Jamie’s replacement is named, I am stepping in to handle his former responsibilities including programming, marketing and scheduling for FS1 and FS2, as well as digital. All of these functions will now report directly to me.
We understand how difficult this will be for many of you, but in these times it is important that we remain unwavering and focused in continuing the great work of FOX Sports.
It comes less than week after the Awful Announcing article chronicling Horowitz’s takeover of Fox Sports Digital and turning it from articles to all-video. The site with various clips of its debate shows on the front page of FoxSports.com became no more than a YouTube channel thus causing its traffic to fall precipitously.
Horowitz certainly didn’t endear himself to Fox Sports digital employees when he announced the new strategy. And apparently this hasn’t sat well with Fox Sports management which surprisingly pulled the plug on Horowitz’s explosive tenure.
Ourand reports in Sports Business Daily that the move was unrelated to the changes at digital:
It is not known what caused Horowitz’s abrupt departure, though sources said it was not related to changes made at Fox Sports Digital, which was covered extensively by Awful Announcing last week.
Shanks will seek a replacement for Horowitz. He will handle Horowitz’s responsibilities until then, and FS1 programming, marketing and scheduling and digital will report directly to him.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the firing is due to sexual harassment allegations against Horowitz:
Horowitz’s dismissal came less than a week after 21st Century Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace at Fox Sports. The company hired a law firm, which began interviewing women at Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it.
Several women, including prominent on-air personalities, have already been interviewed about their treatment at Fox Sports, according to two people familiar with the investigation.
Horowitz came to Fox Sports in 2015 in hopes of turning around the fortunes of FS1, luring Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless from ESPN and hiring Jason Whitlock. Gone were studio shows like Fox Sports Live and in were debate shows like Speak For Yourself and Undisputed. And while these shows were doing better in the ratings than the programs they replaced, they still lagged far behind ESPN’s numbers.
Horowitz’s time at Fox follows his rather explosive tenure at NBC’s Today show where Horowitz was fired just a month before he was to officially begin as the man in charge. Reports about his NBC experience later surfaced and perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come at Fox.
Reaction to Horowitz’s firing is already coming in:
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) July 3, 2017
From a laid-off Fox writer, “Fuck Fourth of July. This is Christmas.”
The Hollywood Reporter says that Horowitz is already thinking about suing Fox:
The reasons are unclear for the abrupt departure but he has hired powerhouse litigator Patty Glaser to represent him, suggesting he takes issue with the reason behind his exit.
Horowitz’s lawyer, Patty Glaser has issued the following statement:
“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling. At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct or an inability to adhere to professional conduct. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job, a job that until today he has performed an exemplary fashion. Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”
Whatever the reason behind his firing, Fox felt it could no longer go forward with Jamie Horowitz and it leaves him with few options for his next gig.