Fox cottons to bowl games

Fox Sports has acquired rights to its first college football game, snaring the Cotton Bowl from its own Fox Sports Net, which had sold the New Year’s Day game to CBS.

Fox will begin airing the Cotton Bowl as an afternoon game from Dallas on Jan. 1, 1999, after CBS carries its third and final game this coming New Year’s. The Cotton Bowl has lessened in stature over the past few years, since it lost out on a bid to become one of college football’s rotating group of championship games. NBC aired it through 1995, when CBS picked it up after Fox/Liberty Sports acquired the rights under a six-year deal that expires in 2001.

The contest still snares decent ratings, but under the current set-up, Fox pays CBS a time-buy fee, said to be less than $1 million, and in exchange sells all the ad inventory itself. “In all likelihood we’ll find another bowl for New Year’s Day,” said Michael Aresco, CBS Sports’ VP of programming.

CBS also runs Fox-owned college basketball games and Notre Dame-Navy football matchups in 1998 and 2000 under separate agreements unaffected by the Cotton Bowl deal.

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