Fox Sports 1 has bravely attempted to go toe-to-toe with ESPN with many of its programming choices since its mid-August launch. By challenging ESPN publicly right out of the blocks, the network set very hgih expectations. Thus far, Fox Sports 1 has failed to reach those expectations in the ratings department. Fox College Saturday was defeated by College GameDay by a 21-1 ratio in viewership last fall. Fox Sports Live has struggled to get off the ground challenging SportsCenter, even being outdrawn by a simulcast of Cosmos on FS1 and dipping to as low as 7,000 viewers. Overall, Fox Sports 1 has a mindset that wants to compete with ESPN, but in reality the network is in competition with NBCSN for a distant #2 in the 24/7 cable sports world.
How can Fox Sports 1 and flagship program Fox Sports Live begin to establish a more consistent audience to reach some of those lofty early expectations? The clear path forward for Fox Sports 1 is to offer viewers a clear choice between their network and ESPN or NBCSN. FS1 must offer programming and personalities that are in stark contrast to what you would see on any other sports network - that's the most effective way to find any kind of core audience. Some of these ideas have worked better than others, but regardless, it's an ambitious strategy for Fox Sports 1 in its infancy.
The Selection Sunday episode of Fox Sports Live pushed those boundaries to its farthest point yet by going somewhere a national news and highlights show had not gone before.
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