In the clearest sign yet that Fox Sports wants to be in the business of the NBA, the network has hired Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports as its NBA Insider, multiple sources tell The Big Lead.
Wojnarowski will continue to write for Yahoo Sports, but his TV deal with Fox Sports will have him appearing on Fox Sports 1 as the network’s NBA Insider. The agreement is not unlike the one Peter King has with Sports Illustrated – he writes for The MMQB and appears on Sunday Night Football on NBC as an insider during the season.
A Fox Sports spokesman didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. [UPDATE: FOX Sports spokesman Dan Bell has confirmed the report.] Wojnarowski did not return an email seeking comment. He is expected to begin appearing on Fox Sports 1 as early as this month, a source at Fox says.
Fox is in the midst of negotiating a lucrative TV deal with the NBAto bring the network much-needed live sporting events. A source at the network tells The Big Lead that Fox Sports 1 is most likely to get one night a week in the NBA’s new TV deal – probably Saturday night.
While that’s not an ideal night for the network – it’s difficult to get TV ratings on Saturday night and the games will be battling college football in November and December – Fox is desperate to acquire more live TV rights. Hiring Wojnarowski – who breaks more news on the NBA than anyone – is a clear sign to the NBA that Fox Sports 1 is showing a commitment to the sport.
The first nine months of FS1 have been a disaster, and that’s putting it mildly. The network’s three original shows – Crowd Goes Wild, Fox Soccer Daily and Fox Football Daily – have all been cancelled. The network’s ratings are frequently at or below what they were a year ago when it was the Speed Network. These are the normal growing pains of a new network, but they aren’t what Fox executives expected last summer when they boasted about taking on ESPN.