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SPEED to be Replaced by Fox Sports 1; Future of Televised Motorcycle Racing in US in Doubt
Fox Sports Media Group announced it is relaunching the Speed channel as Fox Sports 1, shifting focus away from motorsports to more mainstream sports.
Speed will officially change to Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17, becoming a 24-hour sports channel competing against the likes of ESPN, the CBS Sports Network and the NBC Sports Network. The change had been rumored to be coming for some time now, gaining steam in October 2012 when Speed lost the U.S. broadcasting rights to Formula 1 racing. Speed also lost the rights to air World Superbike racing which has since been picked up by beIN Sport.
Fox Sports 1 has already signed up the broadcast rights to a number of sports properties including college basketball, college football, soccer and UFC. A new rights agreement with Major League Baseball takes effect in 2014.
“Our ‘secret,’ admittedly a very poorly kept one, is now revealed,” says Eric Shanks, co-president and chief operating officer of FSMG. “Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.”
As for racing coverage, the only motorsports property confirmed in the announcement is NASCAR. RoadRacingWorld reports Speed has the rights to MotoGP for the 2013 season which extends past the Aug. 17 changeover date, though that is no guarantee that it will be retained. In recent years, Speed also held the television rights to AMA Supercross and AMA Superbike. It remains to be seen what will happen to the U.S. television rights to these and other motorcycle racing properties.
If Fox Sports 1 does air MotoGP or other motorcycle properties, viewers may get to see races uninterrupted by commercials as FSMG says it will expand use of the new “double box” commercial format. The “double box” format displays divides the screen into two parts with commercials airing in the larger section. The smaller second section meanwhile continues to air footage of the event. Fox experimented with this format during coverage of NASCAR and other sports and seems happy with its results.
[Source: Fox Sports Media Group]