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Caesar: Hype machine explodes with Fox Sports 1

Sun., July 14, 2013, midnight

ESPN never misses a chance to grandiosely promote itself.

Its hype machine cranks loudest with the network’s over-the-top self-proclaimed moniker as the “worldwide leader” in sports coverage. And its look-at-me parading trickles all the way down to such mundane but nevertheless self-serving practices as insisting on tying its name, or one of its reporters’ names, to a breaking news story even when all that is being done is simply confirming (or merely repeating?) what has been chronicled elsewhere.

But Fox is about to unleash a network to compete with ESPN, and it looks as if Fox won’t be outdone on the self-serving front.

Fox televises baseball’s All-Star Game on Tuesday and uses that platform to present a lengthy, expensive, promotional piece to hype the launch of Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday.

Plans are for that network to carry almost 5,000 hours of live news/event or original programming coverage annually and showcase several sports: college football and basketball, NASCAR, soccer and mixed martial arts. It also will have some Major League Baseball games starting next season and will air on what currently is the Speed channel.

And if the way Fox is planning to introduce the network to the masses Tuesday night is any indication, the battle between it and ESPN will be waged as much in the hype department as in the ratings.

A 90-second promotional spot tentatively is planned to run in the fifth inning, and adding to the hype are the settings where filming took place. Major sports facilities were used, including the Los Angeles Coliseum, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gillette Stadium, Los Angeles Sports Arena and Comerica Park. And several big-name sports figures participate, including Mike Tyson, Joe Flacco, Jeff Gordon, Lane Kiffin, John Thompson III and Miguel Cabrera.

“Using any measure, this is the most ambitious commercial project we have taken on,” Fox Sports marketing chief Robert Gottlieb said. “This spot sets the tone for everything.”

Fox has gone as far as producing a video that shows how it made the real video.

If Fox is going to this extreme to merely set the stage, one can only imagine what the hype machine will spew out over the coming months and years.

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