Numbers are in for Fox Sports 1’s first full week of national air, and they certainly show room for improvement.
Though “UFC Fight Night: Shogun Vs. Sonnen” brought in good ratings for the new net on opening night last Saturday – 10 times the combined audience of Speed, Fox Soccer and Fuel TV on a similar night a year ago – Nielsen estimates that FSI averaged just 161,000 viewers in prime time during the week. The count is up only slightly more from the 158,00 viewers that Speed drew on the same channel last year.
Top audiences for FS1 were NASCAR racing events on Wednesday and Saturday.
To compare, ESPN averaged 2.17 million viewers in the same time period last week – their line up bolstered by Major League Baseball action. FS1 also came in behind ESPN2, NFL Network, NBC Sports Network, ESPENU and NBA TV.
“Fox Sports Live” – or, the equivalent of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” averaged roughly 75,000 viewers for the three episodes that aired around the 11 PM timeslot – only a fraction of the competition’s 1.5 million-sized audience.
Of course, nobody expected FS1 to debut to a huge audience, and it is absolutely necessary to note that ESPN (a Disney/ABC arm) has had over 30 years to develop a worldwide presence and grow a loyal audience. But if the question were posed: “Who would win in a fight; ESPN or Fox Sports 1?” The answer would be clear.
Fox Sports 1 will likely see an improvement this fall when college football comes to air, and then with the addition of MLB games next year. Their future lineup also includes events with the United States Golf Association championship and NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
Currently, FS1 reaches about 75% of US homes.