By Will Stevenson
Usually when an entity or organization monopolizes the industry, they buy everyone out and only leave you with a few choices here and there to receive their content. Whether it’s a television service, a phone company or an auto parts store, they make sure that all other options don’t come close to matching the resources they have acquired. When we look at the ESPN empire, they have definitely monopolized the industry, but they have somehow allowed their viewers and listeners to access every possible sports niche there is to offer. It seems as if ESPN Radio has landed in every major city nationwide, and locked in every state with at least a station or two that is affiliated with ESPN. Over the years the ESPN Network has had it’s share of Sportscenter hosts, analyst, guests, shows, and radio hosts, but what they have been able to do is replace the faces with no drop-off in ratings or growing power. With their partnership, or being owned by Disney, those that leave ESPN are able to move to CBS, NBC, and ABC seamlessly. Over the past few years, when the contracts go into their final year, the rumors begin to surface and individuals begin to look for work elsewhere; but where else could they go that would have the same shine as ESPN.
And that’s where Fox comes in.
It seems as though Fox has been on the outside looking in when it comes to sports content, although they do have Fox NFL Sunday that usually brings the NFC contenders to table every week. The last time I watched something on a Fox network was “The Best Damn Sports” show and “The Man Show” on FX. If you’ve every watched a show on FX, then you are aware they bend the lines of censorship for mainstream television. The things they are able to show and get away with are very different from what ESPN can do now that they are under Disney’s supervision. After Colin Cowherd’s contract and “ethnic misquote” combined for the right fire, Fox was more than willing to take him on. The Le Batard Show, based out of Miami, slid into his 10am to 1pm time slot and haven’t missed a beat. One person leaves, another shows up and everything keeps rolling. Fox has been trying for years to match the level ESPN has reached, but haven’t been able to take over in numbers, viewers, mentions and downloads. Fox has been able to throw money at previous ESPN employees and provide an atmosphere that will allow them to have less censorship and more freedoms with their shows.
Can Fox grow their brand of talking heads to the heights of ESPN while doing the same exact thing ESPN has done and is already doing? Probably not, but all it takes are a few gasbags saying the right things and the right people paying attention. Television viewers are one thing, but clicks and downloads are something totally different in this social media driven world we now live in.
By Will Stevenson