As the popularity of its irreverent Best Damn Sports Show Period
continues to grow, Fox Sports Net executives are considering retiring the National Sports Report
sometime in first-quarter 2002.
The Best Damn Sports Show Period — a 90-minute show that offers live updates —would become the default national sports news service for 18 FSN-owned and affiliated regional services, sources close to the situation said.
The sports talk-comedy hybrid, hosted by Chris Rose and comedian/actor Tom Arnold, has certainly built significant momentum since it began in July. Initially airing for one hour at midnight, Fox moved the show into primetime last September, when it became an instant ratings hit.
Since its debut at 7:30 p.m. — with a repeat showing at 11:30 p.m.— ratings for the show have jumped 131 percent, from a .35 to a .81, according to Nielsen data.
Fox Sports Net executives downplayed the notion that they are considering pulling the plug on the National Sports Report.
"While we continually assess our programming and our schedule, this latest rumor of the demise of the National Sports Report
is premature," said Fox Sports Networks vice president of media relations Lou D'Ermilio.
Still, there is no denying the momentum of Best Damn Sports Show Period.
The show has been so successful that Fox will expand it to two hours beginning this week, after building it to 90 minutes on Nov. 5.
By comparison, the 30-minute National Sports Report
is averaging a modest 0.44 rating in its 10:30 p.m. time slot. Once considered Fox Sports Net's answer to ESPN's SportsCenter, the show has been overshadowed by the Fox's various Regional Sports Reports, which generate higher interest among viewers of its regional sports network affiliates.
Elsewhere, the Fox Sports Digital Nets will launch on AT&T Broadband systems as part of distribution agreement reached last week by Fox Cable Networks Group, said the unit's executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The three-channel Fox Sports Digital Nets service — which offers live event programming and regional sports-news coverage from Fox Sports Net's regional sports networks — also has agreements with Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications Inc. The diginets will also launch on AT&T's Headend in the Sky digital-distribution platform later this month.