Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mike Francesa show on WFAN will be simulcast on Fox Sports 1 and 2-Neil Best

3/12/14, "Mike Francesa says he'll simulcast on Fox Sports 1 & 2," Newsday, Neil Best

"Mike Francesa will return to television March 24, seven weeks after the end of his long simulcast run on the YES Network. His new TV home: Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, the network's national cable sports outlets.

The WFAN host made the announcement during his radio show Wednesday, confirming a story in Newsday Feb. 9 that he was headed to Fox -- but with a previously unreported wrinkle.

Rather than appearing entirely on FS1, he will be seen on that channel only from 1 to 4 p.m., then will switch to FS2 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Francesa said on the air the two-channel plan "doesn't make any difference to us." But he said Fox's deal allows both outlets to be used, presumably in part to help promote both upstart channels.

"We did talk to a bunch of different people, but clearly the Fox Sports people were the most aggressive," he said. "They made the biggest offer. They offered us really the best vision of what they wanted to do . . . They really wanted to have a lot more presence in New York."

He added that Fox "clearly has a design on going after ESPN. That's very clear."

Francesa noted that Fox now owns 80 percent of YES, so his current and former simulcast partners are under the same corporate umbrella. Plus, in most Cablevision homes FS1 is on Channel 69, one down from YES.

FS1 is available in significantly more homes than FS2, however, so some viewers will be shut out of the final two hours. Cablevision carries FS2 on a higher programming tier than FS1.

Francesa said the Fox deal runs for four years, coinciding with the remaining time on his WFAN contract.

Callers asked Francesa Wednesday whether he would change his show's content to reflect sports covered by Fox, or to reflect that he will be seen nationally. He assured them he would not.

"They came in and said, 'Hey, A, we think you're a national name and have been for a long time, and B, everyone watches you in L.A. and the other parts of the country," Francesa said.

"They said they have no interest in changing the show, so we're not changing the show . . . It will not change the show at all."

WFAN is owned by CBS Radio and CBS Sports Network simulcasts the station's morning show featuring Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.

Francesa told Newsday in December he would not consider CBS Sports Network, saying, "There is absolutely zero chance I would go there because I don't think it fits the program . . . I think one is national and one is local and I don't think they marry well and it does not fit what I deem to be the strategic idea of the simulcast."

Last month Francesa said on the air that there are people at CBS Sports with whom he does not get along. "Those guys would put Attila the Hun on their network before they'd put me on, OK?" he said. CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle said Wednesday, "There were never any discussions at CBS Sports about adding the Mike Francesa show to CBS Sports Network. We could not be more pleased with our choice to add Boomer and Carton to the network as our simulcast partner and are extremely satisfied with its success.""

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