News Corp. is reportedly in the works to convert its Fuel action-sports network into a more mainstream cable network aimed directly at competing with ESPN. Fuel is available in 36 million U.S. homes. So far, the company is putting together the required rights from satellite carriers, MSOs and sports organizations. News Corp. also owns the 20 regional Fox Sports Networks (FSN), Speed, available in 78 million homes, the Fox Soccer Channel, the Big Ten Network and Fox College Sports and airs games on broadcast TV via Fox Sports.
A final decision to move forward hasn’t been made yet, reports Bloomberg.
The competition is hot. News Corp. would also be competing with Comcast’s new NBC Sports Network and CBS’s CBS Sports Network. News Corp. last year secured rights to the Pac-12 Conference and Big-12 Conference games. In October, it also won TV rights to soccer’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
ESPN, meanwhile still has rights for Monday Night Football and national baseball and basketball games. But with ESPN’s demands of $5.06 per subscriber per month this year — the most of any cable channel – News Corp. may get some strong interest by offering the network at lower rates to the MSOs and satellite operators.
The new channel could begin service by the end of this year and is being led by David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports, Bloomberg reported. The story also noted
News Corp. already has secured clearance from DirecTV for a new network.