Fox Sports’ cable network FS1 has been dealt a rough hand over the past 24 hours.
Colin Cowherd is continuing to receive harsh criticism after calling Philadelphia the “dumbest sports city in America.” Katie Nolan, a rising star at the network, is heading to ESPN. And Fox Sports was forced to pull back from an odd advertising campaign in New York City that trashed the hometown Knicks.
Criticism for Cowherd
Fox Sports Radio host and FS1 personality Colin Cowherd is continuing to receive harsh criticism after his factually challenged attack on Philadelphia, calling it “the dumbest sports city in America” for firing former Eagles coach Andy Reid. who has led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 4-0 start this season.
“Maybe Philadelphia fans are so dopey they don’t like the work ‘read,” Cowherd said. “They don’t like to read.”
The responses to Cowherd’s comments… weren’t kind.
Signs that the criticism was getting to Cowherd were apparent Tuesday evening, when he was reduced to responding to message on social media with a middle-finger emoji followed by the word “Philly.”
Considering FS1’s attempt to grow its ratings to compete with ESPN2, it’s hard to see how criticizing the sports fans in one of the country’s top media markets makes much sense. Here’s a look at FS1’s current ratings:
Katie Nolan headed to ESPN
One of the worst-kept secrets in sports media was made official Wednesday: Katie Nolan is headed to ESPN.
Nolan was a rising star at Fox Sports, but she largely went silent after the network canceled her Emmy Award-winning late-night show Garbage Time. Jamie Horowitz, the network’s former president of national networks, called Nolan a “superstar” and was reportedly scheduled to meet with her the week he was fired after an investigation into claims of sexual harassment.
Instead, Nolan negotiated an early release from her contract with Fox and will take her talents to rival ESPN, where she is slated to appear beginning Oct. 16.
“When I was a little girl, I always dreamed that one day announcements regarding my specific assignments would be forthcoming,” Nolan said in a statement from ESPN.
Conner Schell, the executive vice president of content at ESPN, called Nolan a “rare talent” and said she brings a “fresh perspective and a great sense of humor” to the network.
Knicks-trashing ad campaign cancelled
Meanwhile, Fox Sports was forced to pulled back from an odd FS1 advertising campaign on New York City subways that trashed the hometown Knicks, who haven’t made the playoffs the past four seasons, as “Hopeless.” It’s worth noting that FS1 doesn’t have any rights to air NBA games, and the Knicks air locally in New York on MSG, making the ads even more bizarre.
According to SNY’s Adam Zagoria, Knicks owner James Dolan was “furious” about the ads (one was labeled “Nothing Will Change Until Dolan Sells The Team”) and called Fox executive Rupert Murdoch to complain.
While most ads appeared to criticize the team, some of them had more optimistic messaging. One featured an image of Kristaps Porzingis with the caption, “Porzingis Is The Truth.”
“Today, FS1 featured statements on a New York City subway car intended to reflect the distinct emotions and opinions of passionate sports fans,” Fox Sports said in a statement. “We regret the tone and are removing the content in its entirety.”
It’s also not the first time this year Fox Sports has been asked to remove its advertising. In August, Nebraska’s athletic department requested the network stop running a 30-second ad featuring Nebraska players in a scene clearly inspired by the 1984 horror film “Children of the Corn,” based on the novel by Stephen King.
“It’s not really the direction we want the brand to go in,” David Witty, the senior associate athletic director for marketing and communications at Nebraska, told the Omaha World Herald.