News Corp. COO Chase Carey said reports that the company
would convert its Speed channel to a national sports network that would compete
with ESPN were "rumors and speculation" at this point.
The latest round of stories about a new national network
came amid word that News Corp.'s Fox was near a new deal with Major League
Baseball that would give it rights to televise more games than its current deal
"We obviously haven't announced anything," said Carey,
speaking at the Goldman Sachs 21st Annual Communacopia Conference in New York
Carey did say, "We do like the sports business," adding that
the company's underdeveloped networks like Speed and Fuel "do give us a real
opportunity to do some really exciting things."
But he added that "people have said we're going after ESPN.
ESPN is in a different game. I think for us the real opportunity is to build
The cost of sports rights has exploded, but that's a reality
that must be managed because must-see programming is becoming a more important
part of the television business.
"I think in this world, hits are just going to continue to
get more important in every area, whether it's hits in news, hits in
entertainment, or hits in sports," Carey said. "And probably there are no
stronger hits than sports. I think the value of that unique content will
continue to really drive a lot of things around it and as all these platforms
evolve, it is that unique content where I think disproportionately the value
On the other hand, less distinguished content will suffer.
"I think the world will get more competitive. I think this is a great industry
with real growth, but I think that competition is going to have winners and
losers and I think the winners will be those that have breadth and strength and
unique hit content."