Fledgling cable channel Fox Sports 1 has been offering "make-goods" in some high-profile sports events on broadcast sibling Fox as it looks to compensate for ratings shortfalls.
Some advertisers on Fox Sports 1 are being offered time in Fox broadcasts such as college football games and pre-game and post-game NFL programming, the buyers said.
Some advertisers even received time in the World Series on Fox. And if FS1 continues to under-deliver, some buyers suspect very early pre-game inventory on Super Bowl Sunday could be made available.
All regularly-scheduled World Series units were sold, and what was offered to FS1 advertisers were extra units that arose as games unfolded, according to a person close to the network.
Fox Sports 1, which replaced the Speed channel in August, has had a slow start, with few major live sporting events to draw viewers. The channel is currently averaging about 261,000 total viewers in prime-time. That's a far cry from ESPN, which averaged over 2 million viewers in prime-time during the third quarter, but it is still an improvement over last year, when Speed was averaging about 151,000 viewers.
And media buyers are mindful that it is still too early to accurately assess the network. By offering such high-end inventory to make up for shortfalls, Fox Sports is showing its commitment to the channel and keeping advertisers happy, according to a buyer.
Advertisers have a vested interest in seeing the channel succeed as they look for a credible alternative to ESPN.