By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
December 3, 2012
ESPN’s sports media monopoly could be in jeopardy, as News Corp reportedly is moving forward with plans to turn its auto-racing channel Speed into Fox Sports 1, an all-sports TV network by the middle of next year. News Corp execs believe the company is uniquely positioned to compete against ESPN because of their previous success breaking into the broadcast and cable news markets with Fox and Fox News, respectively.
Fox isn’t the only network hoping to steal viewers away from ESPN, as NBC and CBS have also launched 24-hour sports networks. However, where Fox hopes to differentiate itself is with distribution and live sports rights. Speed already is in more than 80 million homes, and Fox already owns rights to MLB, NASCAR, college sports, and UFC.
It’s easy to understand why News Corp wants to launch an all-sports channel. ESPN reportedly is worth $40 billion, nearly half of parent company Walt Disney Co.’s total value. Additionally, the channel makes more the $5 a month in subscriber fees from 100 million households. But ESPN, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take News Corp shareholders several years and billions of dollars to replicate ESPN’s success.