News Corp. Mulls Sports Net, Possible Cable Revamp

Chase-CareyNo matter what News Corp. does as far as launching a national sports network, the intention is not to take on ESPN, COO Chase Carey said Thursday. Carey didn’t offer anything definitive on the potential conversion of the Fuel or Speed networks into a general sports network, but said both offer options for transformation.
“We think those channels do give us a real opportunity to do some exciting things,” Carey said at an investor event.
As with most major media companies, Carey said an emphasis on sports is crucial at News Corp., since the programming is largely viewed live and is unique -– there’s only one NFL, one Major League Baseball, etc. Fox has made some recent moves to acquire more sports rights recently, including the UFC and World Cup, and expanded distribution avenues for college football to the Fox network and FX.
The ratings stability of sports is becoming “more important than ever … in this world hits are just going to become more important in every area.”
News Corp. is mindful of the increasing costs involved in sports, Carey said, although its new deals indicate it feels it can manage those.
Separately, Carey said News Corp. will look to receive compensation from operators to allow them to make its programming available on a TV Everywhere basis. More broadly, though, he said the anytime, anywhere access needs some consumer-friendly tinkering.
“We’ve got to make it easier,” he said. “We’ve got to make it simpler … we’ve got to make it something that is sort of second nature.”
“American Idol” and “The X Factor” may not have met expectations for the Fox network recently, but Carey said the company is “very excited” about “Idol” as it returns next year with new judges.

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