Pierce: Will Fox Sports 1 be on your TV before Utah-USU game?
It's possible that when Utah State visits Utah on Thursday, Aug. 29, not everyone in Utah will be able to go home and watch the game on their TV.
Oh, no! The sky is falling! The end is near! Grab the pitchforks and torches and let's start marching!
The game will be telecast on Fox Sport 1, the new, all-sports network that replaces the Speed Channel on Aug. 17. And stop me if you've heard this one before Fox is still working on getting its sort-of-new channel distributed.
The plan is to slide FS1 into the Speed Channel slots. But there's a bit of a snag. According to the Sports Business Journal, Fox charges cable/satellite providers 23 cents per subscriber per month for Speed; Fox wants providers to up that to 80 cents for FS1.
That's an additional $51.3 million per month for the 90 million homes that currently carry Speed. An additional $615.6 million per year Fox wants from cable/satellite providers.
And, oh yeah, there's no deal yet with DirecTV or Dish.
It's hard to tell local fans who have been through The Mtn. debacle and are still waiting for the Pac-12 Network to sign with DirecTV that this isn't a big problem. But it's not. Not yet.
This sort of deal is often signed days before or days after a channel launches. FS1 launches in 3Â½ weeks; the USU-Utah game is five weeks off.
These are always tough negotiations. And this one is complicated by the fact that Fox is making several changes Fuel is becoming Fox Sports 2 and the Fox Soccer Channel is becoming FXX (a second FX channel).
But keep in mind that this is not like the independent Pac 12 Network trying to work out deals. Fox is a media giant with infinitely more muscle.
The absolute worst-case scenario is that Fox Sports 1 doesn't come to agreement with any additional cable providers, Dish or DirecTV before Aug. 29. The game will still be carried on Comcast. So local viewers will have to find a friend who subscribes to Comcast and pays for the digital sports tier, because that's where Fox Sports 1 will be located.
Be clear about that. If you don't have the Speed Channel now, you won't have Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 27. Unless you upgrade, of course.
There's been a lot of talk about how Fox is challenging ESPN/ESPN2 with Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. And, eventually, that may be true.
Fox will have to work out its distribution problems to mount a serious challenge.
There's even glee among some sports fans that the ESPN behemoth may face a serious challenge. The kind of challenge it hasn't gotten from the CBS Sports Network of the NBC Sports Network. At least not yet.
But whether Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 succeed or not, there will be a price to pay. Literally.
The increased competition for sports rights is driving up the prices. Fox isn't charging cable providers nearly four times as much for Fox Sports 1 as it did for the Speed Channel because it's greedy. (Well, not JUST because it's greedy.) It needs to pay for all the rights fees it has and will acquire.
And you don't think your cable or satellite company will just absorb those costs, do you? Of course not. Those costs will be passed along to their subscribers. To you.
Maybe you'll want to grab those pitchforks and torches after all.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter: @ScottDPierce.
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