The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

March 6, 2013

New Fox sports network to debut in August

(Continued)

And in what might seem odd for a company known for drawing a young audience, Regis Philbin will host a weekday sports talk show for the new network. The 81-year-old Philbin jokingly pretended to be hard of hearing when questions came up about this at the news conference.

Wanger noted that "Live! With Regis and Kelly" did well in younger demographics before Philbin left that show in late 2011.

"Regis has appeal from young to old," Wanger said. "That's why we want him."

Fox plans to use its "double box" format for showing commercials during live action for sports events. Kicking off the coverage on Aug. 17 will be a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan and a UFC event in prime time.

Fox executives had talked about potentially launching a sports network for years. As DVRs made live events even more valuable, the timing was right once the company was able to line up enough broadcast rights. And not having a cable sports partner could have hurt the main Fox network in negotiations, Freer said. Fox has used cable channel FX in the past to show some sports.

The network wasn't ready to announce its deal with the new basketball conference formed by breakaway Big East schools, but Fox's executives were happy to talk up the ratings draw the league will provide. Freer called it an "iconic basketball brand" that will immediately be one of the top hoops conferences in the country.

"They're very historic, high-profile teams. The Georgetowns of the world and so on, St. John's, Villanova etc.," Wanger said. "It would be a coup if that deal did happen."

Fox is airing the 2014 Super Bowl in the New York area, a valuable opportunity to promote the new network. Its 22 regional channels will also offer regular chances to direct viewers to FS1.

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