Fox Sports 1 Reveals Problem with Today’s 24-Hour Sports Networks

A few weeks ago, Fox Sports launched their “answer” to ESPN with Fox Sports 1, a new 24-hour sports network that would supposedly fix all the things ESPN has done wrong over the past few years.  The first sign that this was an empty promise came when, a week prior to launch, Fox Sports 1 still had not inked a deal with any major cable or satellite provider to carry the channel.  The second sign came once Fox Sports 1 launched, and one of the first panels they had contained Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, and Gary Payton inexplicably discussing Ichiro’s legacy.  Even ignoring the fact that all of those men have expertise in a field that is definitely not baseball, the segment was a comedy of errors that contained horribly irrelevant or downright incorrect statistics, botched lines, and a sense that none of them even took the discussion seriously.

This reveals the underlying issue with 24-hour sports networks: the analysis is useless.  In today’s day and age, advanced statistics–such as sabremetrics in baseball, but they exist in pretty much every sport–tell a much more complete story and are much more valuable from an analysis perspective than the basic statistics such as home runs and RBIs do.  However, many talking heads that fill the analyst positions on ESPN and Fox Sports 1 simply don’t take the time to grasp these complicated statistics, instead opting to mock those who use the stats as “math nerds”.  However, historically these statistics are far better at both predicting future player performance and providing a context to compare various players.  While there are broadcasters (like Brian Kenny on the MLB Network) who do understand and attempt to use these statistics on TV, the vast majority do not, and that is why these networks are largely irrelevant.  The other idea behind the 24-hour sports networks is constantly providing highlights;  however, that, too, is somewhat archaic with the internet making it so easy to access highlights from wherever you may be.

And that is why Fox Sports 1 will fall into the same exact hole ESPN has fallen into.  Absent providing any worthwhile analysis or something new and exciting for viewers, they’ll be forced into resorting to the same sensationalism that makes Tim Tebow’s every move a “breaking news” story.

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