New York -- Live sports has taken a lot of blame recently
for driving up customers' cable bills, with rights deals being signed at record
numbers. Randy Freer, copresident and COO, Fox Sports Media Group, isn't buying
"There's a reason they call it 'must-have'
programming," Freer told B&C executive editor Dade Hayes during
NewBay Media's Sports Business and Technology Summit on Wednesday. "If
it's must have, it can't cost too much."
"This theory that it's all about sports is
ridiculous," Freer continued, arguing that there's a lot of other
programming he has to pay for that he doesn't watch. "We participate in an
incredibly competitive business."
In fact, Freer argued that sports is even getting the full
respect it deserves. "Sports is undervalued and it continues to be,"
he said. "When you look at the cost of actually going to a sporting event
vs. watching every event you're getting at home, it's still an incredible
He said that in most markets, sports networks are among the
highest rated -- and he's not talking about ESPN. "Regional sports
networks today in most markets have become one of the top two or three
most-watched outlets [there]."
Fox is 59 days out from its much-ballyhooed launch of its
national cable network Fox Sports 1, which could give ESPN its first major
competitor in a marketplace it has had a considerable lead in for years.
"It's a sprint at this point," says Freer about the run-up to the
Coinciding with the Fox Sports 1 launch will be the
company's first TV Everywhere offering Fox Sports Go. "We've been probably
behind in many ways over the years," admitted Freer about Fox's adoption
of second-screen technology. "You want people to be engaged as possible
with your content."
Next February, it will be Fox's turn to televise
the Super Bowl. The past two years, NBC and CBS have offered live-streams of
the big game. "We're still working with everybody both internally and
externally on that," said Freer. "It's a question mark if the TV
Everywhere authenticated model can handle the volume needed for the Super