If you'd ask executives at Fox Sports, their new flagship highlights/news show, Fox Sports Live, has already made an impact. "I don't know if Keith Olbermann would be back if Fox Sports Live or Fox Sports 1 did not exist," said Scott Ackerson, Fox Sports executive vice president, studio production on a conference call Thursday afternoon. The execs are so flattered by ESPN's decision to give Olbermann an ESPN2 show to go head-to-head with Fox Sports Live, they're planning on doing a "Best Person in the World" segment to match Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" spot.
There's a lot to digest about Fox Sports Live, which debuts on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 11 p.m. ET and airs seven nights a week. The thing to know is that it's almost two shows in one, at least on weekdays. Saturday and Sunday nights, it'll be your traditional, straightforward highlight show. Monday-Friday, however, it'll feature highlights (mostly anchored by Canadian sensations Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole) mixed in with a panel show featuring former athletes.
The panel, hosted by former SportsNation co-host Charissa Thompson, will feature the previously announced Andy Roddick alongside six-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb, Basketball Hall of Famer Gary Payton and former NFL offensive lineman Ephraim Salaam. The segment will feature "opinion and analysis" on the sports news of the day. The panel will be together regardless of the discussion, so it won't just be McNabb on football, Roddick on tennis, etc. As McNabb immortally said on the conference call, "People want to hear Gary Payton talk about badminton."
"We are so excited to welcome Gary, Donovan and Ephraim to FOX Sports and we're thrilled to have Charissa back in the family," Ackerson said. "The group officially unveiled today, with Andy, represents some of the best in their fields, and we are confident that they'll provide a fresh, unique perspective to the sports news of the day, creating engaging and entertaining television."
A "less serious" vibe was referenced throughout the call. "We think that this group of folks is who you'll want to sit down with every night," Eric Shanks, COO of FOX Sports said. Though journalism and news gathering was emphasized, the goal is for the panel to be more lighthearted, even in the vein of The Best Damn Sports Show Period, which Thompson co-hosted (though there will be no studio audience). The vibe between panel members McNabb and Salaam was very similar to a mix of that and of the cast of Fox NFL Sunday.
The show will debut, in full panel format, on Aug. 17, though the panel will typically only work Monday through Friday. Fox Sports Live will also feature anchor updates throughout the day, keeping the network viable no matter when news breaks. The network debuts its full regular programming lineup on Aug. 19.