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FOX Sports Cancels Jay & Dan; Plans Katie Nolan Push

Months ago Katie Nolan made it clear that she wanted a bigger stage to showcase her talents. She told Mike McCarthy of the Sporting News she was hungry to take a shot at late nights. Her commentary drew mixed reviews given that FOX Sports 1 had Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole in place as it’s late night team on FOX Sports Live. O’Toole even took a shot at her on Twitter.

But now, FOX Sports won’t have to worry about those internal issues after making the decision to part ways with Onrait and O’Toole and throw their network muscle behind Nolan’s rising star.

Onrait and O’Toole debuted on FOX Sports in August 2013 after a successful run at TSN. The duo were popular with TSN viewers and recognized as Canada’s version of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. But since moving to the states, their act hasn’t been received as strongly.

To be fair to Jay and Dan, some of that wasn’t their fault. They were brought in to be the network’s flagship show but as the channel started to take shape, the focus shifted towards debate-driven programming, and less on highlight shows with a mixture of personality and interviews.

At the same time, Nolan began to generate buzz, especially in digital circles, and it was clear that her personality and presentation was on the fast track to earn a larger opportunity.

Which brings us to now.

FOX told staffers last night that they were cancelling FOX Sports Live. FS1 and FS2 executive Charlie Dixon said via an official statement that the network is committed to creating programming that resonates with sports fans, and as part of that commitment, a difficult decision has been made to part ways with Jay and Dan, and shift the attention towards other projects.

FS1 plans to insert “MLB Whiparound” in the 11p ET time slot when the MLB season begins. During the next month, the channel will feature a mixture of content including College Hoops Extra and UFC programming.

As it pertains to Nolan, the network has bigger plans for her. According to Mike McCarthy of the Sporting News, the network is developing a variety of new TV shows with Nolan featured as the centerpiece. She could end up hosting late-night, mornings or afternoons, three windows which remain open and on FS1’s radar to fill. What is certain is that her once per week show “Garbage Time” will be discontinued.

“Following the success of her Emmy Award-winning original program GARBAGE TIME, including the show’s successful daily hour-long run during Super Bowl Week, we could not be more excited about Katie Nolan’s future with FOX Sports and we look forward to further developing her role at FS1,” Charlie Dixon, executive vice president of content for FS1 and FS2, said in a statement.

In the upcoming months, FS1 hopes to solidify its weekday schedule. Rumors have been running rampant of Nick Wright and Cris Carter earning heavy consideration for mornings. Former ESPN anchor Josh Elliott, who exited CBS recently, is another name who’s entered the conversation for a prominent role at the network. And with Nolan now in line to receive a big push, FS1 is ready to be more aggressive in battling for weekday viewers.

The one silver lining for Jay and Dan is that they now have the benefit of exploring options. Jim Miller has reported that Onrait is expected to return to TSN. Whether that includes O’Toole is unclear. There’s also the possibility that additional interest follows from ESPN or another sports media outlet.

In the meantime, as Terrell Owens would say “Get Your Popcorn Ready” because Katie Nolan is about to get her shot to make a bigger difference on FS1’s airwaves. Now the question will be, can she make a larger impact? We shall soon find out.

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