Earlier this week WFAN’s popular drive time sports talk host Mike Francesa announced that after almost two months away from his television gig at the YES Network, his WFAN radio show will again be simulcast across the nation via Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, starting March 24th.
The four-year deal was revealed a month earlier but was made official last week. Monetary terms have not been disclosed.
This move brings credibility to the fledgling Fox Sports networks, launched last August. Fox Sports has been looking for a big name to help attract an audience and compete against the juggernaut ESPN. This move does that in a big way. The set up of the broadcast is interesting for Francesa. From 1PM to 4PM (EST) Fox Sports 1 will carry the program, then from 4 PM (EST) to 6 PM (EST) it will switch over to Fox Sports 2, so FS1 can air its late afternoon original programming.
Back when Francesa was still with his long time partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, in 2002 it was announced that the “Mike & The Mad Dog” radio program would be simulcast on a newly created network called the YES Network (Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network) to help gather viewership. This partnership lasted through the end of "Mike & The Mad Dog" in August of 2008, and then with Francesa’s own program “Mike’s On” until just this past February.
There has been criticism of this deal. Many people believe that Francesa cannot bring the coveted youth market to Fox Sports. While it is true that most of his audience is a bit older, most of the social-media activity about his show is driven by a younger audience.
I am one 24-year-old who will follow Francesa to Fox Sports. He is a fixture that has become a permanent part of New York fans daily listening/viewing. People enjoy the pompous Francesa, who is most famous for lambasting callers on his show and often hanging up on those who dare to challenge his opinions.
There are countless parody accounts of Francesa, often speaking “Zaunism” (a play on Francesa’s show Mike’s On [Francesa speaks in a thick Long Island accent]), a fake language that butchers names and things. For example new Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury becomes “Jack Kobe Ls Bury”, etc.
Signing Francesa allows Fox to build their network around him, as YES did when it first started, while also filling significant airtime. YES has replaced Francesa with Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay, and his radio show on ESPN Radio.
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