Fox cutting costs on road to Daytona 500

Execs also looking 'minutely' at NFL, MLB coverage

NEW YORK -- Always known for its production values, Fox Sports is trying to balance technical expertise with making sure its telecasts are cost-effective.

Fox Sports chairman David Hill confirmed during a conference call ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500 festivities that the network has done some trimming behind the scenes. And it's not just in the NASCAR telecasts; Hill said that the past year and a half has been one where Fox Sports has been looking "minutely at every one of our productions," and that includes the NFL and MLB on Fox.

Travel costs have been cut back and deals with vendors -- when it comes to power, catering and mobile production units -- have been renegotiated. Fox Sports has cut by a day the time that it takes to build its compound. And it has partnered with ESPN to save costs, with the networks hiring the same technicians who work Saturday at Daytona for ESPN and then Sunday for Fox Sports. In the past, there would have been two teams of technicians.

"We'll be making changes and working in a far more cost-effective way than we have ever before. But hopefully, and we're very confident that it will not," cut down on what is seen by viewers, Hill said.

Fox Sports is the latest in a line of TV networks that are looking at the future with a much tougher line. NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol alluded to this last month saying, in effect, that things looked grim in the immediate future after the Super Bowl.

But even with the challenged economy, Fox Sports execs sounded upbeat. Automotive, financial and telecom ads have been selling well.

"In a very difficult sales environment, whether it's primetime television or sports, the NASCAR ad market for Fox in this environment is unbelievably healthy," Fox Sports president Ed Goren said.

And if "The Great American Race" isn't the Super Bowl in terms of viewership and heavy attention to ads, Fox said it's seeing more marketers that are using NASCAR personalities to sell products.

"It is becoming very Super Bowl-like in the way the marketers are tailoring to the Daytona 500," Goren said.
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