Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Debate Sports Shows Heating Up Rivalry

In September, Fox Sports 1 launched “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” in which sports writer turned TV commentator Skip Bayless and NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe take their positions at a glass table in a studio on the 21st Century Fox lot in Los Angeles. Each weekday morning, they engage in fierce debate over the previous day’s games and the matchups for the weekend ahead.

According to The LA Times, their 2½-hour show has pumped up Fox Sports 1’s ratings, airing directly against Bayless’ former ESPN2 debate show “First Take.”  The programs are similar in format right down to the hip-hop theme songs used in the opening credits.

The progress of Fox’s upstart is not going unnoticed across the country at ESPN’s headquarters in the rolling hills of Bristol, Conn.  On Jan. 3, “First Take” is moving from ESPN2 to the Walt Disney Co.-owned sports media behemoth’s main channel, ESPN. “First Take” has been displaying a countdown clock every day to promote the shift.

Successful studio shows are vital to the financial health of cable TV sports networks, which have to work harder than ever to justify their value to consumers and the cable and satellite providers that fill media conglomerate coffers with subscriber-generated revenue.  The shows make up 48.6% of ESPN’s programming, while live event coverage accounts for 24.6%. “SportsCenter” alone takes in more than $700 million annually in ad revenue.

Fox Sports 1’s aggressive move into the field also poses another challenge for ESPN, which is contending with the loss of subscribers in recent years as consumers look to smaller bundles of channels or cut the cord altogether and get their programs online. ESPN has lost more than 9 million subscribers since 2013, according to Nielsen data.

Studio shows with bold personalities who connect with fans having the same conversations around the office water cooler or at the barber shop provide hours of cost-effective original programming. Such programs, which require a table, a few chairs, some flat video screens, and on-air personalities with an unrelenting belief in their viewpoints, can be produced at a fraction of the cost when compared with the staggering rights fees networks must pay for live sporting events. A daily studio show can cost less than $100,000 a week to produce before talent salaries are figured in.

Read More Now

No comments:

Post a Comment