FSN Digi-Nets Going to College


Fox Sports Net is expected to transition its struggling trio of digital services into a new college-sports-specific network later this fall.

The three Fox digital services -- Fox Sports Atlantic, Fox Sports Central and Fox Sports Pacific -- offer the combined local feeds of FSN’s 23 regional sports networks, sans pro-sports telecasts.

Initially launched in 2001 as cable's alternative to DirecTV Inc.'s multichannel-sports offerings, the package is only distributed in 3 million cable households.

The as-yet-unnamed network will combine the resources of FSN’s owned and affiliated regional-sports-network college-sports rights to program the 24-hour service, FSN sources said.

While the regionals hold rights to numerous top college-conference basketball and football teams around the country, it’s unclear how much of that programming can be offered on a national basis.

FSN does hold national rights to Pacific 10 college-football and basketball games, as well as Big 12 college-football contests. The programmer also holds rights to Atlantic Coast Conference college-basketball games, but those rights are only for Sunday-night telecasts.

The new FSN college-sports network will compete against ESPN, which holds national college-basketball and football rights to most of the top conferences, and against upstart College Sports Television, which has scooped up rights to a cross-section of college sports, such as lacrosse, swimming, basketball and gymnastics.