Fox announces 24-hour sports network

(RNN) – For those who are growing tired of ESPN's 24-hour hype machine, an alternative may be on the horizon – and it will feature Regis Philbin.

Fox announced it is rebranding its cable holding Speed as Fox Sports 1, which will be a 24-hour general sports channel in the mold of ESPN. The network is set to launch Aug. 17, and is expected to be joined by Fox Sports 2, a rebranded version of another Fox holding, Fuel, which broadcasts a wide range of extreme sports.

Fox owns broadcasting rights to various major sports, including NASCAR, Major League Baseball, college football and the NFL. It is expected to announce a college basketball partnership soon, and will also broadcast UFC events.

A sports newscast, similar to ESPN's SportsCenter, is also expected.

Fox made major news when it announced the signing of popular ESPN reporter Erin Andrews last August. Andrews will be part of Fox Football Daily - an extension of its game day preview show NFL Sunday - on the new network along with other Fox NFL personalities. Fox has used Andrews extensively since she joined the network, including with its MLB, NFL, college football and Daytona 500 coverage.

The network will have even bigger star power with Philbin, nearly as famous for his Notre Dame fandom as his TV persona. The veteran broadcaster will host a sports-themed talk show on the network called Rush Hour. Philbin revealed his participation on The View last week, a show his new vehicle is expected to imitate.

Fox Sports 1 isn't expected to compete directly with ESPN – at least not initially – but will be starting on stronger footing than the iconic network did when it launched in 1979. ESPN did not have the rights to any major sporting events for three years, and waited 14 years to start ESPN2.

ESPN has been owned by ABC since 1984 and by the Walt Disney Company since 1995. NBC and CBS have 24-hour sports networks as well, but neither is as high profile or comprehensive as Fox Sports 1 is expected to be.

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