Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Broken News: Fox Sports 1 Takes Chance on TSN Duo

Regardless of what you think about the current format of ESPN's Sportscenter, one thing is true: the show is still a staple in millions of mornings across the country.  Has been for years.  Maybe viewers feel they are getting too much debate and not enough highlights, but either way, many have stayed.

Last year, NBC Sports Network launched its counter morning show called The Lights.  The show is fast-paced for the morning commuter looking to cram as many sports highlights into his or her morning bowl of cereal.  A stark contrast to ESPN's show, but certainly does not have the big-time personality or the ratings to back up the talk.

(Sports Illustrated sports media reporter Richard Deitsch talks with Onrait and O'Toole about the move to America)

Now Fox Sports 1 is less than 100 days until its August 17th launch date, Fox is planning their morning competitor to take on ESPN and NBC Sports.  Fox Sports 1 will be available in about 90 million homes at the time of the launch.  Fox Sports Live will be their morning show, and among their high profile hires for the network are the two men that will head the show.

Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole have been heading Sportscentre on TSN in Canada to wild success.  Their cult following with America's neighbor to the north is one the ESPN has not seen since its earlier days of names like Steiner, Olberman, Roberts, Patrick and Mayne graced the Bristol, Conn. set.  Now those two bring their offbeat yet hilarious chemistry stateside.

What do you think of some of their top moments?

Quirky indeed, these two may really have a chance to change the morning sports viewing landscape.  With almost a sketch comedy feel to their delivery, they have proved to be extremely effective in presenting the important part.  You know, the highlights.  It should be interesting to see what Onrait and O'Toole bring to the table at Fox especially when considering that the former TSN duo is also bringing along their long-time producer.

(Here is a link to Fox Sports 1's opening day schedule)

The battle for ratings could be slow at first as Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Live begins to gain a footing, but the competition may not be as mountainous as one may expect.  Sportscenter's top rating on Monday - I would presume an average Monday with no huge news but NHL ad NBA playoffs running - was the 6:00 p.m. edition that attracted 850,000 viewers (0.4 rating among 18-49 year old viewers).  The Lights on NBCSN did not crack the 0.2 rating barrier among 18-49 year old viewers (although, to be fair, neither did the morning edition of Sportscenter).

Potentially dragging viewers away from Sportscenter and The Lights could be a revised approach to the morning show.  While Sportsenter has an all-around highlight, analysis, and debate focus and The Lights has a strictly highlight focus, Fox Sports Live will have a two desk element that will likely closer resemble ESPN's version than anything.  Onrait and O'Toole will be on highlight duty, while newly acquired former ESPNer Charissa Thompson will head a panel at a separate desk.

No word yet on whether they will be embracing the debate.

Or embracing Tim Tebow.

Either way, will you give Fox Sports 1 a chance?

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter at @kevin_rossi.

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