When FOX announced it would be creating a 24-hour sports network that would be equipped to go head to head with ESPN, I had my doubts. ESPN is the first channel I go to when I turn on the TV and it’s been that way for years. Granted, there are things that I have grown very tired of at the Worldwide Leader but it’s still my main TV and web source for sports news.
I didn’t expect that to change anytime soon but it seems as if FOX is using it’s new network to target those areas where ESPN has become annoying, boring or tired. Sportscenter has reigned supreme for a long time but all of the sudden, I think I’m buying in to what FOX is putting together.
Yesterday, it was reported that Charissa Thompson would be leaving ESPN and re-joining FOX. She’s one of my favorite hosts on ESPN, so I might just have to follow her over there. FOX Sports also hired the two lead sports anchors of Canada’s Sportscentre. I didn’t know these guys before today but I came to an important conclusion based on these YouTube clips: Sportscentre > Sportscenter.
Could you imagine any of that happening on Sportscenter today? This is a lot more entertaining than the straight highlight reads followed by Q & A with an analyst formula that happens three times a block on ESPN. In fact, the currently absent goofy and light-hearted attitude is what made Sportscenter so popular in the first place. People tuned in for Olbermann and Dan Patrick as well as to find out who won the games.
Most of the anchors on Sportscenter now are very talented and have plenty of personality but unfortunately the producers don’t allow them to showcase it. I know that the ESPN suits have had bad experiences with the personalities becoming more important than the highlights (*cough* Olbermann *cough*) in the past but their fear of that happening again has stifled some of current anchors creativity.
There’s a market out there for goofy and fun sports highlights and Fox Sports 1 seems to be tapping into that. If they’ve got these Onrait and O’toole, limit the long analyst Q & A’s and keep the highlights moving at a good pace, then they’re on their way to building the perfect show. Or at least the one that the sports fan in me would be most inclined to watch. It’s very possible that a few months from now, Fox Sports 1 will be my first stop when I turn on the TV.