Fox Sports 1 debuted three hours worth of new programming on Monday afternoon from 4-7 p.m. ET. Some of the shows relied on personalities Fox already had, some mixed in returning veterans and newcomers, and some of the casts were new altogether. Let's take a look down the list at each of the new shows, including one that may cause a little bit of controversy.
Fox Soccer Daily
There are people who are not fans of Fox's soccer production over the years, and particularly not fans of Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton. I doubt their segments on the show changed anyone's opinion of them, positive or negative. Fox is having a remarkable run of non-American hires, and Julie Stewart-Binks won me over with a great deal of enthusiasm and the politeness that is stereotypical of her people. Replacing Rob Stone as Fox's main soccer host is a hambone of a task, and she performed admirably.
The problem is, no matter what you think of Binks or Wynalda, the show has several fundamental flaws. One is its time slot, weekdays at 4 p.m. ET. The show will either be competing against midweek afternoon Premier League matches on NBCSN, or acting as a postgame show for the network's UEFA Champions League coverage. Hell, on Friday it's preempted for NASCAR Qualifying. Fox Soccer Daily will only air on Monday and Thursday in its premiere week.
Other than that, the major problem of the show is apparently out of its control: Fox does not have footage rights to the EPL. That means that, as you may have seen on Fox Sports Live this weekend, the network can show day-of highlights of various matches. However, after 48 hours, the window closes. That left Monday's Fox Soccer Daily using still footage and fan-shot videos to set up discussions of Saturday Premier League games.
Why is that? Well, a source at Fox Sports told me that NBC Sports has placed "news access restrictions" on Fox Sports and other broadcasters. A spokesperson for NBC Sports gave us the following statement when asked for comment:
"All networks may use Premier League footage in accordance with our News Access Guidelines. Specifically, 2 minutes of highlights can be used in sports news programming within 48 hours of the program's end."
I checked in with an ESPN spokesperson as well, and he gave a similar response: after 48 hours, footage rights are "specifically negotiated." So unless Fox Sports can work out a different arrangement, Fox Soccer Daily will remain a bit of a sloppy watch without some EPL access. Hopefully, it'll find a way around it.
NASCAR Race Hub
I'll plead the fifth on this show, as NASCAR is one of my big blind spots. It looked competently produced and held my attention. That said, I want to give motorsports fans fair say, so feel free to give your thoughts in the comments.
Crowd Goes Wild
Alright, let's get into this. Cards on the table: this show is actually okay. It's in no way the train wreck many sports media columnists (mea culpa, myself included) predicted. In fact, I liked this panel better than the Fox Sports Live one. The show was funny without trying too hard in spots, and most of the cast is energetic and likable. Former Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson, Wall Street Journal writer Jason Gay and former NFL player Trevor Pryce were very appealing.
The cast tried some interesting bits, like a segment with Michael Kosta and Katie Nolan in which they spoof contrived debate shows by debating themselves. As a pleasant change of pace from other shows, nobody yelled. The interview segment with Oscar De La Hoya (who was doing, seemingly, the Fox version of the ESPN car wash this weekend) was fine and finally showed off one of Regis' skills (more on that later) as an amiable, entertaining interviewer.
That said, the show isn't without some flaws and some stuff that could be cut. An interminable piece where the cast bequeaths Regis a horse with his name for his birthday bogged down the show. That was all well and good, but it was followed up by an awkward, endless broadcast of the horse actually competing in a race. It stopped the show dead in its tracks.
The biggest problem for the show, however, might be its reason for existing: Regis. At times he seemed reluctant to mix it up or looked flat-out bored with the show. Philbin is a television icon who clearly still yearns to perform, but you have to wonder if he really has any interest talking about sports beyond Notre Dame and the Yankees. Philbin has joked about his contract lasting only five months, but you have to wonder if at some point, Crowd Goes Wild will turn the show over to its surprisingly good main cast and allow Regis to move on to his next project.
Fox Football Daily
This is the one thing Fox Sports 1 came out of the gates with that requires no improvement. Not a surprise, of course, as the show -- which features a lot of new-to-TV talent -- relies heavily on Jay Glazer, one of the best "insiders" in all of sports television. Glazer immediately brought something to the table in the show's first 20 minutes: an exclusive video showing Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith ripping off the helmet of Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito and then swinging it at his head following a play during a preseason game. That's legitimate breaking news, one of my musts for Fox Sports 1.
That said, Glazer didn't own the show completely. While Barber and Urlacher were a tad quiet in the opening episode, Randy Moss -- a man known as being famously media-unfriendly -- shined in his first turn as commentator. I thought he was a bit awkward in shorter segments on Fox's Colts-Giants coverage Sunday night, but when he was allowed room to talk, he was easygoing and insightful, and unafraid to discuss former teammates and coaches.
The jockularity that often plagues Fox NFL Sunday was tuned down a little, but the rite of passage that every single person interviewed on the show must take a "shot" at Glazer was a bit much. A Taiwanese animation segment detailing how the show came together was surprisingly funny. One criticism: enough with the leather chairs. I know the only options are leather chairs or desks, but ... please, PLEASE ... choose desks. Other than that minor furniture complaint, this was the big winner in Fox Sports 1's first three days.