Fox Sports 1 Completes Distribution Roster

Two days before its Aug. 17 launch, Fox Sports 1 said it will debut with a full complement of major distributors.

In its press release, Fox Sports 1 didn’t specify that it had signed any new deals, although it has been widely reported that DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable had not been on its distribution roster. Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Fox Sports 1 had reached an agreement with those distributors. Since Time Warner Cable negotiates programming deals for Bright House Networks, which counts some 2.5 million subscribers in five states, that MSO will also carry Fox Sports 1 out of the gate as well.

Fox Sports Media Group officials have indicated that Fox Sports 1, which will feature some 5,000 hours of live event and original programming during its rookie year, would debut with 90 million subscribers. That would represent the biggest launch in cable history. The network's opening day will be highlighted by NASCAR and UFC action, plus the debut of news program Fox Sports Live.

Fox is also launching Fox Sports 2 from Fuel TV, which counts some 37 million subscribers, on Aug. 17.

Sources say that Fox Sports 1, which is being relaunched from Speed, has been seeking a monthly subscriber license fee of 80 cents, up from its predecessor's 22-cent fee, elevating to $1.50 over the course of a multiyear contract. However, sources say that DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable/Bright House will launch FSI at Speed's prior rate.

Fox officials declined to comment.

“We are thrilled that virtually all pay-television customers across America will have access to Fox Sports 1,” said Mike Hopkins, president of distribution, Fox Networks, in a statement.  “This network launch is a major milestone for Fox and will alter the sports television landscape.  We are grateful to our distribution partners for making this all possible.”