New Sports Cable Network Should 'Not Try to Beat ESPN': News Corp. COO

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News Corp. president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey told an investor conference Tuesday that the planned new Fox Sports 1 cable channel will bring in losses for a few years, but will turn out to be a smart business decision.

He said the network could become “a multi-billion-dollar franchise" over time, but emphasized that it should “not try to beat [Walt Disney's] ESPN.”

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The Rupert Murdoch-led entertainment conglomerate is scheduled to unveil details of the new network later on Tuesday. It will remake its Speed network into a national sports channel that many have described as an ESPN competitor.

Carey told the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., that the company plans to make a “manageable investment” in the sports network.

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It will then increase carriage fees that pay-TV companies have to shell out for it over the coming years.

While sports TV rights are expensive, News Corp. knows how to “navigate that” and can benefit from programming that’s “ever more valuable and more unique in a world that’s fragmented," Carey argued.

He said the channel will use TV rights that the company has for baseball, college football, college basketball and World Cup soccer games that “didn’t reside anywhere in the Fox family.” Offering shows around sports games will be a key focus to draw an audience, he added.

Shortly after Carey spoke, FOX Sports Media Group co-presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks unveiled programming highlights for FOX Sports 1, which sees its official debut on Aug. 17. Soccer, UFC, college basketball, high profile NCAA football offerings (Notre Dame at Stanford, Big Ten Championship Game, Pac-12 Championship Game) will appear in the fall -- with MLB games starting in 2014 and select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as soon as 2015.

Additionally, FOX Sports 1 will be home to original programs Rush Hour (hosted by Regis Philbin), Fox Football Daily and the documentary series Being.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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