FOX Sports 1 is taking another bold step. With ESPN expected to break up Mike and Mike after a seventeen year run, FS1 is rolling out a live morning show which it hopes will be able to attract viewers to the channel each morning and serve as a strong lead-in to Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.
Tasked with the assignment of anchoring the network’s new morning program are Nick Wright and Cris Carter. Their new show, First Things First with Cris Carter and Nick Wright will originate from New York and make its debut on Tuesday September 5th, two days before the NFL season kicks off.
The show will air weekdays from 6a-9:30a ET. Wright and Carter gained valuable on-air experience working together during the week after Christmas while Colin Cowherd was on vacation. They’ve also both appeared numerous times on FS1’s talk shows.
To most sports fans, Carter is a familiar face. He was a Hall of Fame wide receiver in the NFL, playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. Following his playing career he transitioned into the media, and has gone on to serve as an analyst for ESPN, HBO, and Yahoo Sports.
Wright may not have the national resume on television that Carter does, but he’s more than capable of making his presence felt. Prior to joining FS1 he hosted daily sports radio shows in Houston and Kansas City, making waves in both cities. His segments with Colin Cowherd have also been well received, and contributed to his growth on the national stage.
During a recent introduction to advertising agencies, the duo offered a sneak preview of what’s to come on their show. In addition to showcasing their opinions and sense of humor, they also delivered some strong takeaways. Carter told clients that he believes Wright will be the face of FS1 for the next 10 years, and he’s excited about doing the show because he believes in his partner’s talent and tremendous upside.
Although FS1 still trails ESPN for viewers during daytime hours that hasn’t tempered Jamie Horowitz’s enthusiasm. The FS1 head boss points to the impact that Undisputed has had on The Herd.
“Colin’s ratings are up 83% since ‘Undisputed’ launched,” Horowitz told Ad Age. “So the idea is, we give Skip and Shannon their first steady lead-in and watch their numbers grow. Every show that we add to the lineup makes for more habit-forming TV.”
There are no guarantees that Wright and Carter will do for Undisputed what it did for The Herd, but given the network’s lack of current offerings in morning drive, it stands to reason that FS1 should gain ground with a new live program. Especially one which features two highly opinionated personalities with very different styles compared to what’s been presented previously in mornings on other sports networks.
As hard as it might be for some media outlets to picture FS1’s programs unseating the worldwide leader in sports atop the throne, Horowitz says those who underestimate his channel are doing so because of lazy thinking.
“People are set up to believe that how things have been are the way they always will be, and that’s never how the story unfolds,” Horowitz continued telling Ad Age. “There were always three broadcast networks, and everyone thought that was just the way things were going to be. And then Fox came along. And since then we’ve seen the same pattern in cable with FX and Fox News.”
While Carter and Wright may have received the majority of attention, one other news item trickled out from Horowitz’s pitch to advertisers. During a presentation on FS1’s digital strategy, Katie Nolan was featured via a pre-recorded segment. The late night star who has been off the air and who had been courted by ESPN according to the Sporting News, shared some of her team’s success stories in the digital space and explained how vital it is to connect with an audience across multiple platforms.
It’s safe to say that Horowitz wouldn’t have included Nolan in a major pitch had he not felt confident about her sticking around. Although Nolan’s program “Garbage Time” is off the air and not expected to return in its present form, industry insiders say she’s expected to land a nightly role, possibly in prime time on FS1.
The road ahead for FS1 may still be bumpy, but it goes without saying that the addition of a live morning show, and the possible addition of Nolan at night, will make the network more formidable than they had been previously. Whether it’s enough to knock ESPN from the top spot will be one of the fascinating storylines to follow the next few years.