Fox Sports launches originals unit

Michael Bloom to lead programming push

Fox Sports Media Group has tapped Michael Bloom to head an original programming division.

Fox Sports chairman David Hill has long wanted to see Fox Sports’ cable nets program more nonfiction fare that can bookend live events such as auto racing and college football and basketball.

On the broadcast side, Fox has traditionally used time-buys as a lead-out for its an early Sunday NFL game when there is no doubleheader.

The new division will aim to create original sports-related programming that could air at that time; the goal is to retain a portion of that massive NFL viewership.

In addition, Fox is interested in adding more online sports programming to its digital partners, and that effort would also fall under Bloom’s purview.

Hill would like to make both racing-centric net Speed, which is currently in 82 million homes, and Fox Soccer a higher priority within the Fox Sports universe. Adding new programming that would supplement live events is seen as a way to generate interest in those cablers. Bloom, who will be senior VP of the division, comes to Fox after most recently serving as an exec development consultant at AMC, where he helped establish the net’s nonfiction department.

AMC is making a major reality push in 2012 with Kevin Smith’s “Comic Book Men” and “The Pitch,” where ad agencies compete to win accounts.

“We have our own Fox brand, have our version of these new shows and will hopefully break some new ground,” Bloom told Variety. “There are lots of interesting characters and great stories to tell.”

The first of the new programs could be on the air by late 2012 or early 2013.

Bloom added that all options are at play as far as what type of programming — competition, newsmagazine, gameshow — may go forward. “Sports is just a starting point,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be game, match, contest or race. It can be character driven. Everything is on the table.”