Fox Sports is an Australia group of sports channels. They are owned by the Premier Media Group, which is in turn owned by News Corporation, and Consolidated Media Holdings. Its main competitors are ESPN, which has little local content and the free-to-air digital channel One HD. News Corporation also controls Fox Sports (USA) and the main pay-television sports network in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports.
Fox Sports started life as the Premier Sports Network (later just 'Premier Sports') as the only fully operational local channel at the launch of Australia's first pay-television service, Galaxy. Premier Sports' backers included American company Prime International, which was later to become part of Liberty Media.
The service was launched at 4pm 26 January 1995 in Sydney and made a name for itself, securing the rights to Australia's cricket tour of the West Indies. Previously Australian cricket tours had been covered on the Nine Network on free-to-air, and Nine tried to stop the broadcast under Australia's 'anti-siphoning' rules, which state that certain popular sporting events cannot be screened exclusively on pay television. PSN signed a deal with Network Ten to share the broadcast rights.
When Foxtel launched its cable service later that year, PSN was included as part of the package.
Between 1995 and 2010, Fox Sports aired National Basketball League (NBL) games.
In 1997 a secondary channel was launched on Foxtel to carry broadcasts of the new Super League competition. Fox Sports and its chief competitor, Sports Australia shared the rights to NRL broadcasts as a result of the legal settlement in the Super League war. The channel on Foxtel was later relaunched as Fox Sports Two, at first broadcasting from Friday through Monday each week, and later expanding to a full 24-hour, 7-day service in 2002.
When Optus Vision dropped the C7 Sport service in March 2002, they started carrying the Fox Sports channels. These were referred to by Optus as "Optus Sports 1" and "Optus Sports 2" in Optus promotional material; on-air programming referred to the channels as simply "Sports One" and "Sports Two", although programming such as the nightly Fox Sports News bulletins retained the Fox name. Optus dropped the "Optus Sports" name in October 2002.
Fox Sports Two is generally used to cover bigger events that require large amounts of air time, such as the 1998 Winter Olympics, Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and the 2004 European Football Championship.
Fox Sports has been the exclusive broadcaster of the Hyundai A-League since its first season in 2005. And in 2006, an A$ 120 m deal between the FFA and Fox Sports was reached after the end of the first season. Under the deal, Fox Sports will have exclusive rights from 2007 to all Socceroos home internationals, all A-League and Asian Cup fixtures, World Cup qualifiers through the AFC, and all AFC Champions League matches.
The deal to cover the A-league live and exclusive has already reaped big rewards for Fox Sports, its ratings were very strong in the 2006-07 season and the 2007 A-league grand final became (at the time) Fox Sports highest ever rating event.
Ratings for football (soccer) have generally been very good. The Socceroos first game of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, attracted 345,000 viewers, while their Quarter final drew an average of 419,000 - at the time, an all time record for Australian Pay TV. This record was broken on the 1st of April, 2009, when the Socceroos defeated Uzbekistan to put them very close to qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - this match was watched by an average of 431,000 people.
In 2007, Fox Sports reached a deal to broadcast 4 games live and exclusive from the AFL each week. This includes the exclusive only Sunday twilight match. In addition they will broadcast Friday night games live into New South Wales and Queensland via channel 518 at no extra charge - normally used for pay-per-view service Main Event. When channel 518 a is used in this way it is promoted as Fox Sports Plus on-air.
The channel is being used increasingly to show live events when Fox Sports has a clash involving its main 3 channels - for example on Saturday 17 March 2007 Fox Sports broadcast a match from the 2007 Cricket World Cup (Ireland v Pakistan) live on 518 - as it was committed to Football, Rugby Union and another cricket match on its main 3 channels.
In 2010 Fox Sports coverage of National Rugby League games held 73 out of the top 100 programs of any type aired Foxtel.