After a five-year hiatus, FX will return to the sports arena, kicking off a college football schedule this fall.
FX is expected to announce on Monday a 13-game slate featuring contests from the Pac 12, Big 12 and Conference USA. The games, emanating from the rights deals Fox Sports Media Group currently has with those circuits, will likely air during the late Saturday afternoon window (ET), in primetime or late-night.
Produced by Fox Sports, the first three games are expected to be announced in June, with the remaining contests selected six to 12 days in advance of air date to provide the 99-million subscriber FX with the best matchups possible. FX's first college football game will kick off on Sept. 3.
It was unclear at presstime if the college football telecasts would be supported by shoulder programming on the network.
FX has a history with sports, televising contests from Major League Baseball, college football and NFL Europe, as well as NASCAR and boxing action over a decade, starting in 1996. However, it has been on the sidelines with athletics since 2006.
In addition to American college football, FX is expected to televise UEFA Champions League soccer matches under Fox Sports Media Group's three-year renewal for the prestigious European club tournament, covering the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.
The fully distributed cable network, looking to broaden its own viewership, also gives FSMG another outlet as it looks to compete for various sports rights.
Currently, Fox is in the midst of an exclusive negotiating window to extend its rights deal with the newly expanded Pac 12, which is welcoming Colorado and Utah. ESPN's window recently ended and the conference is expected to take the rights, including football, basketball and digital, to the open market.
FSMG has been busy of late adding college sports properties, securing the rights to the initial Pac 12 conference championship game, as the centerpiece of deal, reflective of the Colorado and Utah additions, that also encompasses six more regular-season football contests in 2011 and 10 basketball matchups during the 2011-12 academic year on Fox Sports Net outlets. The group has also inked a six-year pact for Big 10 conference championship games, the first of which will be played at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on Dec. 3.
Both the Pac 12 and Big 10 title tilts will air on Fox.
FSMG also succeeded in wresting away media rights to Conference USA from ESPN. Under that deal, FX could be the venue for that conference's college football championship contest.
Other Big 12, C-USA and Pac-12 games will air throughout the country on Fox's owned-and-operated regional sports networks and affiliated sports channels. In 2011, Fox will also feature regional SEC and ACC football packages. All told, FSMG outlets, whether nationally or regionally, are scheduled to televise almost 200 college football games during the 2011 season.
The Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12 combined to send 17 teams to bowl games last season and feature many of college football's most renowned major and mid-major programs.