Jamie Horowitz wants to jumpstart Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and isn’t afraid to shake things up to do so. The president of Fox Sports National Networks told Sporting News he’s looking to make a stronger push towards opinion and personalities on the network’s programs — and move further away from news and highlights.
His top target – the most polarizing sports personality on television, ESPN’s Skip Bayless.
Shows like ESPN’s “SportsCenter” are dinosaurs, Horowitz said. Instead he sees the future of sports programming being built around what he calls “opinionists” – personalities such as Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Jason Whitlock and Katie Nolan.
Top free agents don’t become available often in the sports media world, but when they do, Horowitz wants them to know he’s open for business, and ready to be bullish to make things happen. Stephen A. isn’t a consideration because he recently signed a long-term agreement with ESPN, but with Bayless’ deal set to expire this year, Horowitz is leaving no stone unturned to lure the controversial on-air talent over to his network.
“I look at these ‘opinionists’ like superstars in the NBA. You can probably name the dozen superstars who are out there. It’s like asking the (Boston) Celtics, ‘Are you interested in Kevin Durant?’ Yes, we’re interested in all the superstars. Of course, I’m interested in Skip,” said Horowitz. “I’m interested in Stephen A. and Michael (Smith) and Jemele and (Tony) Kornheiser and (Michael) Wilbon. Just like ESPN and Fox were both interested in Colin.”
Despite criticism from TV types and media critics, “First Take” is the top rated studio show on ESPN2. The program averaged a record 413,000 viewers in February, up 18 percent from the same period last year. FS1 meanwhile is being doubled by ESPN for viewership between 6a-6p, making it imperative that Horowitz take some risks to bring in high profile personalities like Bayless.
Although ESPN sits atop the mountain, Horowitz believes FS1 can overtake ESPN in the same way that Fox News trampled CNN – by being edgier and providing high profile talent who craft their content around stronger opinion and entertainment rather than scores, highlights, and feature stories.
“You can be unafraid and unfiltered — and be a blowhard. But you’re not actually home until you’re incisive,” he said. “That’s what I think the Colin’s, Katie’s and the Whitlock’s all bring. They’re thought-provoking and insightful. That really is the bullseye. They’re not going to hit it every day, with every comment, with every show. But that’s where you’re aiming. That’s where you want to be.”
Credit to Sporting News who originally reported this information