News Corp Exec Calls Sports Network Plans “The World’s Worst Kept Secret”

I don’t usually feel sorry for News Corp execs. But I came close to doing so this evening as COO Chase Carey on a conference call with analysts was forced to pretty much confirm the widely reported, although still officially unannounced, news that Fox plans to create one or two national sports networks. “I guess you could call it the world’s worst kept secret,” he said. CEO Rupert Murdoch wasn’t there to help. (He stopped appearing on the quarterly calls in mid-2011 when the company was barraged by questions about the UK hacking scandal.) Carey says that “sports is a huge arena that has room in it” for new services. “We can build businesses that capitalize on the other assets we own and we do think sports is an opportunity there.” He doesn’t believe that the failure of News Corp’s regional sports networks to land the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers will hurt. The amount that the Dodgers wanted, before deciding to launch a team-owned channel, “was too rich for our blood.” Even so, “we’ve got enough assets so we can have a vibrant Southern California business.” He declined to go into detail about the sports the company might offer on Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2 — the expected names for the services. “If we launch a channel it’ll be a channel that excites people…We think we have proven a unique capability in sports to do exciting things.” Carey adds that sports “will be a force second to none.” The company seems to have an idiosyncratic idea of what’s exciting: It’s talking to Regis Philbin about the possibility of hosting a show on the new sports service, Sports Business Daily reported today citing “several sources” who say that “talks are serious and an agreement could be close at hand.” 

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