Fox Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz spoke to the New York Times, and confirmed that the new show “Speak For Yourself” which will feature Colin Cowherd, and Jason Whitlock, will compete head to head against ESPN’s 6pm ET edition of SportsCenter. The show is scheduled to debut on Monday June 13th.
“We’re making big bets on three types of programming: live events, pre- and post-game programming and opinion-based programming,” Horowitz told the Times. “And we’re making an equally big bet against traditional news and information shows.”
Horowitz remains confident that SportsCenter’s best days are in the rear view mirror. He adds “strictly, analytically, the traditional news and highlights show is in a record free fall.”
His case gains support when you consider that the average viewership of all live editions of “SportsCenter” has fallen by one quarter t0 552,000 from 2010-2015. It’s even worse among adults 18 to 34. Younger viewers have declined 37 percent to 178,000. On the flipside, “First Take” has risen 48 percent since 2010. The show presently delivers 11 percent higher than the late-morning “SportsCenter”.
ESPN’s senior vice president of “SportsCenter” and news Rob King acknowledged that viewership has decreased but says “SportsCenter” has adapted and tailored some of its editions to suit specific on-air talents, such as the midnight version hosted by Scott Van Pelt.
If there’s a reason to remain optimistic it’s the fact that “SportsCenter” supplies over 5,700 hours of programming per year on ESPN and ESPN2, and its digital growth is substantial thanks to the rapid interest in sharing the program’s video highlights. ESPN executives also point out that their 11pm ET audience for “SportsCenter” is 11 times larger than that of “Fox Sports Live.”
With Skip Bayless’ arrival expected after the NBA Finals, FS1 is looking to stock up on opinion based programming and challenge ESPN’s dominance as the worldwide leader in sports. Cowherd and Whitlock get the first crack, and their ability to make inroads opposite “SportsCenter” will tell us whether or not viewers want more programming driven by hard hitting opinion, or sports content that revolves around news, analysis, information, and highlights.