Looking to broaden its programming base, Fox Sports Net has several reality shows and at least one weekly strip program on the drawing board.
These shows could debut as early as this fall, according to newly named network executive vice president of programming and production George Greenberg.
Fox Sports Net, the umbrella network intertwining Fox's 19 owned and/or affiliated regional sports networks, might also receive a helping production hand from Fox's entertainment entities, such as FX and the 20th Century Fox studio, on the development front, Greenberg said.
He's now responsible for national programming, scheduling, event production and original content for the network.
It has a hit
Cobbled together in 1997, Fox Sports Net has had mixed success with non-event original shows. It has a reasonable hit in the sports-entertainment/variety program Best Damn Sports Show, Period (BDSSP), and can claim some success with the anthology/biography series Beyond The Glory
and the recently launched action-sports magazine series 54321.
But two years ago it was forced to scrap the daily National Sports Report, its attempt to take on ESPN's SportsCenter
and draw national advertising. In addition, late last year FSN killed talk show The Last Word With Jim Rome, due to low ratings. Rome has since moved over to rival ESPN.
Greenberg, who had been the executive producer of BDSSP, said Fox Sports Net has had trouble leveraging the popularity of local and regional programming into success for the overall network.
"We have to do a better job of identifying what we are," Greenberg said. "We have to live off the fact that the regions are so strong [with local programming] and keep those viewers watching all through the night by providing them with programming that helps identify the Fox brand."
To that end, the network will look to build on the sports/entertainment genre by working with FX and 20th
Century Fox to create original programming.
"If there's any way to produce a show using the Fox family, whether it's a movie from FX or whether it's a project developed from the 20th Century Fox studios, and tip it toward a sports scale, why not use those resources?" Greenberg said.
"Fox has done an incredible job with reality programming," he said. "There has to be drama and it has to be Fox-like in it's appearance. I'd love to take a page out of their book and see what we could do with a sports backdrop."
On deck are at least two sports-oriented daily strip shows to complement BDSSP
that Greenberg said will look to take advantage of the previous night's sports action. "We're going to need a couple of strip shows to go everyday and be the backbone of the next wave of shows coming on the network," he said.
Won't be spies
Also on the docket are at least three sports reality shows, although Greenberg said it's too early to discuss specifics. What they won't do is follow athletes around with a camcorder and record their every move, he said.
Greenberg also added that he'd like to explore ways to "harness" the information the flows through Fox's owned-and-affiliated regional sports networks into a show or special. "I also still think in the biography area there's another version of Beyond The Glory out there that we could develop."