News Corp’s Fox International Channels (FIC) will manage all the Fox Networks along with the current Star Sports, Fox Football Channel, Star Cricket and Star Cricket HD networks across Asia. In line with this, ESPN is now Fox Sports, ESPN HD has been named Fox Sports Plus HD, while ESPN News is Fox Sports News. Its mobile service Mobile ESPN has been changed to Fox Sports Mobile and its broadband network ESPN Player is Fox Sports Play.
The new network will also see fresh content across channels. Fox Sports is launching Fox Sports Central, a new sports news programme. The show replaces the current programme, SportsCenter on ESPN. “We’re rebranding the look and feel of the channels as well, not just the logo,” said Peter Hutton, senior VP, sports, FIC. “Fox International is a big, brash brand, and the shows are going to have a lot more attitude and entertainment,” he added. New programmes will roll out over the next couple of years, Hutton confirmed. Last year Peter Hutton was named managing director of ESS.
To market the change, FIC will be heavily cross-promoting across its various channels in the region. It will also be launching campaigns in each market. One such initiative is underway in the Philippines where the company is using local basketball team San Miguel to promote the change. Similar initiatives have been planned in other regions as well.
In India, the company has chosen to retain its sports broadcasting business under its subsidiary, Star India. However, it will function as a separate entity, media reports said. The formal change is expected to take place in June this year.
Former rivals News Corp and ESPN entered a joint venture more than 16 years ago, to offset the high costs of cricket rights in India.