Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Sports 1-Upping ESPN in Hype Biz?; Expensive, Lengthy Commercial Promoting New Network Will Air during All-Star Coverage

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Sports 1-Upping ESPN in Hype Biz?; Expensive, Lengthy Commercial Promoting New Network Will Air during All-Star Coverage

Article excerpt

ESPN never misses a chance to grandiosely promote itself.

Its hype machine cranks loudest with the network's over-the-top self-proclaimed moniker as the "worldwide leader" in sports coverage. And its look-at-me parading trickles all the way down to such mundane but nevertheless self-serving practices as insisting on tying its name, or one of its reporters' names, to a breaking news story even when all that is being done is simply confirming (or merely repeating?) what has been chronicled elsewhere.

But Fox is about to unleash a network to compete with ESPN, and it looks as if Fox won't be outdone on the self-serving front.

Fox televises baseball's All-Star Game on Tuesday (7:15 p.m. KTVI, Channel 2 locally) and uses that platform to present a lengthy, expensive, promotional piece to hype the launch of Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17.

Plans are for that network to carry almost 5,000 hours of live news/event or original programming coverage annually and showcase several sports: college football and basketball, NASCAR, soccer and mixed martial arts. It also will have some Major League Baseball games starting next season and will air on what currently is the Speed channel.

And if the way Fox is planning to introduce the network to the masses Tuesday night is any indication, the battle between it and ESPN will be waged as much in the hype department as in the ratings game.

In fact, Fox went out of its way to announce how it will announce the start of Fox Sports 1 is in itself breathless.

"What do you get when you are preparing for the biggest sports network launch in history and you're televising what likely will be the most-watched sports event of the summer? A golden opportunity," Fox's statement said. "That's what Fox Sports co-presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks saw when they commissioned Fox Sports marketing chief Robert Gottlieb to create a rare 90-second promotional spot that would define for America the essence of Fox Sports 1, the nation's new sports network. …

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