A month before launching its much publicized all-sports network, Fox has yet to cut carriage deals with three of the country’s four biggest distributors, raising the possibility that its August launch of Fox Sports 1 will fall short of the 90 million homes the channel is expected to have.
DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable — representing more than 46 million subscribers — still are negotiating to carry FS1 on Aug. 17, which is when Fox will turn its motorsports channel, Speed, into a multisport network.
The fact that so many deals are open a month before a network launch is not unusual in the cable industry. Typically, carriage deals like FS1’s get finalized in the days leading up to or just after a channel’s launch.
Though talks have been described as amicable for the most part, news that some big deals aren’t done runs counter to the widespread belief in the sports industry that FS1 will flip a switch next month and launch to 90 million homes. While neither Fox nor distributors would comment about the state of talks, ticklish carriage negotiations and a new FS1 rate fee are slowing the process.