Fox Sports 1 — News Corp’s ESPN killer — only has a few days left to sign deals with three of the country’s biggest television providers before it launches.
The channel will debut this Saturday.
As of today, it is still trying to work out contracts with Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, and Dish, the Sports Business Journal reports.
Time Warner has 14.6 million subscribers, many of whom live in New York. DirecTV and Dish have an additional 34 million subscribers.
FS1’s overall ambition is reflected in what it wants to charge these companies in subscription fees. According to the Sports Business Journal, FS1 wants $US0.80 per subscriber — a figure that will increase to $US1.50 by the end of the deal.
For comparison, NBC Sports Network — the NBC Universal’s fledgling ESPN killer — charges about $US0.30 per subscriber.
ESPN charges ~$US5, which tells you everything about what FS1 is up against.
FS1 has a decent portfolio of broadcast rights and a lot of money behind it. It’s run by the same people who turned Sky Sports into a powerhouse in the UK, and there are intriguing on-air stars (Erin Andrews, the Canadian cult duo Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole).
In short, there are good reasons everyone considers it as a more formidable threat to ESPN than NBCSN and CBS Sports Network combined.
But if a huge chunk of the viewing public can’t even pay to watch the channel, it’s not going to have the relevance it expects right away.
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