Fickle pup! The Westminster Kennel Club is abandoning the home provided to its annual dog show by NBCUniversal’s USA network for more than three decades and taking up instead with Fox Sports, which will air the event on Fox Sports 1 and Nat Geo Wild.
Fox Sports and the Westminster Kennel Club said they reached a 10-year worldwide deal that encompasses global rights across a variety of media venues to bring the club’s confirmation show to its two networks, starting in 2017. USA has aired the canine championship since 1984.
The deal spotlights again the growing importance to TV networks of live competition of all stripes. Rights for such content as National Basketball Association games and a block of Thursday-night NFL games currently on CBS bring out the highest dollar amounts from big media companies, but a dog show can be appealing as well.
When Fox Sports begins broadcasting the event, it will have the 141st edition of the contest, which is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., behind only the Kentucky Derby. Fox Sports 1 will become the first new primary television home for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show since it first aired on USA Network in 1984. In recent years, NBCU has also put some of the event on a sister cable outlet, CNBC.
News of the pact was reported previously by Sports Business Journal.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will air in primetime on Fox Sports 1 live from New York City’s Madison Square Garden as seven “Best in Group selections” are made on Monday and Tuesday night, all the way through to Tuesday night’s “Best in Show” announcement. Nat Geo Wild and Fox Sports digital platforms will offer additional coverage, carrying daytime breed judging. Nat Geo Wild will offer encore airings of each night’s programs.
Fox Sports already had a different Westminster Kennel dog event under its auspices, a smaller show known as the Masters Agility Championship. The event takes place on the Saturday before the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It launched on Fox Sports 1 in 2014, and is expected to continue running on the network and Nat Geo Wild through 2026.