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FOX to announce launch of national sports networks, says report

FOX will announce today its decision to launch FOX Sports 1, a national network covering all sports, in August, according to a report in “The New York Times” online edition.

The move positions FOX to compete head-to-head with ESPN in sports coverage. According to the report, the new network will carry MLB games, NASCAR racing, UFC fights, college hoops and grid iron action, and soccer as well as produce and broadcast studio shows.

The article quoted News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey as saying that sports “is a huge arena that has room in it to build a really attractive business” during a call in February with analysts. Carey added that FOX sees sports as “a more and more important and unique part” of the television landscape during the ongoing period of growing fragmentation, the report said.

According to the report, David Hill, former head of the FOX Sports Media Group, will shepherd the launch of FOX Sports 1. Hill was formerly the head of the FOX Sports Media Group, before leaving that post last year.

The story quotes an analyst from RBC Capital Markets as anticipating success for the new venture and foreseeing that FOX Sports 1 could one day bid against ESPN for NBA broadcast rights and a future cable package the NFL games.

Over the past few months, FOX has worked to transform its motor racing channel Speed into FOX Sports 1, the report said.