The competition between cable sports channels has heated up. Fox Sports has been scoring the big perception points with sports fans since late June, while ESPN’s perception has been slipping for more than six weeks.
Riding on a well-financed wave of Fox Sports 1 launch publicity and programming featuring baseball, NASCAR, basketball and golf, Fox Sports scored its highest perception marks of 2013 over the past three weeks.
The 800-lb. gorilla of cable sports networks, ESPN, seems to have felt the brunt of the August Fox hype: its sports fan perception halved from July 19th to August 27th, but it has seen some recovery since the end of August.
NBC Sports Network, while trailing the other two, saw a small surge of its own from late June through most of July, most likely boosted by the Canadian Football League games throughout that time period. The future may bode well with one recently-signed deal: the newly renamed NBCSN has snagged the exclusive broadcasting rights to 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for the next 10 years.
ESPN, Fox Sports Network and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz measurement, which asks respondents: If you have heard anything about the brand recently, whether through advertising, news or talking to friend and family, was it positive or negative?" Results were screened for adults age 18+ who are admitted fans of at least one of the five major sports: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and NASCAR.
A score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
ESPN hit its highest Buzz score for 2013 at 14 on July 19th, a little more than a month before the Fox Sports 1 network debuted. By August 27th, a week after Fox Sports 1’s launch, ESPN had slipped eight points to a score of 6. It has since made it back up to 9.
At the end of June, Fox Sports Network was at its lowest point of the year with a Buzz score of 6. From there, it reached 15 on August 20th, cooled down at 13 for a few days, and is back up to 15.
There is currently a six point Buzz score gap between Fox Sports Network and ESPN.