UPDATE, 9:30 AM: I’m hearing that while DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable will carry Fox Sports 1 programming this weekend, they don’t have new deals in place for the network. The distributors permitted Fox to upgrade Speed to FS1 as long as they don’t have to pay extra for the channel for now. Negotiations are still underway to reach more traditional carriage agreements. Fox says it doesn’t comment on the terms of its programming deals.
PREVIOUS, 6:44 AM: 21st Century Fox’s sports service has pulled off some late-game heroics. Fox Sports 1 will launch on Saturday with a full lineup of carriage partners the company says this morning — indicating that it has inked last-minute deals with Time Warner Cable and satcasters DirecTV and Dish Network. “We are thrilled that virtually all pay-television customers across America will have access to FOX Sports 1,” says Fox Networks’ distribution President Mike Hopkins. “This network launch is a major milestone for Fox and will alter the sports television landscape. We are grateful to our distribution partners for making this all possible.” DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable combine for about 46M subscribers or about 54% of the industry total, but were unsigned until now. Fox says that with “every major distributor on board” Fox Sports 1 will be “the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever.” Fox reportedly asked distributors to pay a monthly fee of 80 cents per subscriber for Fox Sports 1, rising to $1.50 in a few years. The channel it’s replacing, Speed, costs just 23 cents. Fox Sports Media co-President Randy Freer sounded confident about reaching carriage deals when he spoke last week to analysts about his plans. Fox Sports 1 “will be available in up to 90M homes at launch,” he told them. Execs also said that they expect the channel to become profitable in 2016.