Speed Channel Bites the Dust
- Fox Sports 1, a general cable sports network, will replace the Speed channel beginning August 17, 2013.
- No announcements have been made about continuing any Speed channel programming in the future except NASCAR races.
- Speed channel started as Speedvision in 1996 and has been owned by Fox since 2001.
NEW YORK — It started as Speedvision in 1996, became the Speed channel in 2002, and this August 17 it will be gone. Gone, that is, at least as a cable outlet dedicated to motorsports and gearhead obsessions.
News Corporation, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media empire that has owned Speed channel outright since 2001, today announced that it will convert into a general sports coverage channel to be called Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Basically this means Fox is going after ESPN directly by programming 5,000 hours of live sports, sports news and sports commentary every year. It will be, says the company, "the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever."
OK, that's that. But what does this mean for us obsessive/compulsive types who will sit down and watch 12 straight hours of Barrett-Jackson auction coverage? That we don't know. However, FS1 will feature a new hour-long sports discussion show starring 81-year-old Regis Philbin that will be one of the foundation series. And it will include some NASCAR races amid a schedule heavy on college basketball, UFC matches, soccer and a daily program dedicated to nothing but pro football. Still, all that doesn't sound like a schedule compatible with My Classic Car, Two Guys Garage or Chop, Cut, Rebuild.
Frankly, Speed Channel has been disappointing ever since Fox took it over and decided to use it as leverage for maximizing the return on its massive NASCAR contract. It used to be where car junkies could watch muscle car retrospectives all day long, segue into a couple hours of Alain de Cadenet driving exotics and then watch vintage drag racing videos. And it used to be the cable channel where Formula One and World Rallying snuck into the North American consciousness. But F1 will be on NBC starting in 2013 and WRC will show up... well, who knows where? But we're hoping some place.
"Our 'secret,' admittedly a very poorly kept one, is now revealed," said Fox Sports Media Group Co-President Eric Shanks in a release. "Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming." Our prayer is that this includes reruns of that one-time Speedvision staple, the ancient Car and Track starring the immortal Bud Lindemann. But that seems unlikely.
And if Lindemann were alive today, he'd be only six years older than Regis Philbin.
Edmunds says: The Barrett-Jackson coverage has to land somewhere. After all, it's vital that we know what guys who wear really big watches and Hawaiian shirts are over-paying for old muscle cars while getting drunk on mimosas.