While football fans are gearing up for the NFL this fall, David Rone is focused on the college ranks.
The just-announced new general manager of Fox College Sports (FCS), and the first African American to head a Fox cable net, Rone will look to stand out in a crowded marketplace with his group of three national networks that air college sports programming from Fox Sports Net’s 20 affiliated regional sports nets.
FCS hopes to differentiate itself from competitors such as ESPNU and CSTV with its schedule of upwards of 800 live events in a year. Rone wants to combine the national distribution of events carried on its regionals with being "strategic" about original programming to help FCS get in front of more and more distributors. "Digital sports tiers are growing slower than many people expected," he acknowledges.
Rone says while the network will look for a "signature" show - as is the goal of virtually every network - he also will search for an economically-efficient way to produce more events not currently aired anywhere. Producing a typical college sporting event, from lacrosse to basketball, runs about $25,000-$30,000.
In line with News Corp.’s recent emphasis in the online space, Rone will also look to leverage the recent purchase of Scout Media, which operates websites and magazines devoted to college and high school sports. "Not only will their news and information be valuable, but we could potentially put some of the reporters on air as well," he says.
Rone is proud of his diversity 'first' at Fox. "All companies, not just in the media and sports spaces, want to not only diversify programming but also their executive ranks," he says. "I am not saying that is why I got this job, but this is a great example of a company paying heed to its diversity efforts."