Fox Sports Florida
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2014)|
|Fox Sports Florida|
|Launched||July 1, 1987
(as SportsChannel Florida)
|Network||Fox Sports Networks|
|Owned by||Fox Entertainment Group
(21st Century Fox)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
Nationwide via satellite
|Formerly called||SportsChannel Florida (1987-2000)
Fox Sports Net Florida (2000-2004)
FSN Florida (2004-2008)
|Sister channel(s)||Sun Sports
Fox Sports 1
|DirecTV||654 Fox Sports Florida (SD/HD)
655 Fox Sports Florida Plus (SD)
655-1 Fox Sports Florida Plus HD
|Dish Network||423 (SD)
|Available on select cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
Fox Sports Florida is an American regional sports network that is operated as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks, and broadcasts local sports coverage in the state of Florida. The channel is owned by Fox Cable Networks, a unit of the Fox Entertainment Group division of 21st Century Fox and is a sister network to Sun Sports.
Fox Sports Florida was launched on July 1, 1987, as SportsChannel Florida by Rainbow Media (owned by Cablevision Systems Corporation), becoming the fourth SportsChannel America network. The network originally featured coverage of local college teams. It had contracts to televise select games from Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, and Jacksonville. In addition to national SportsChannel programming, it also showed select New York Yankees, New York Mets and Chicago White Sox games which were produced by SportsChannel New York and SportsChannel Chicago.
Starting with the 1988–89 season, SportsChannel Florida televised Miami Heat games. In 1992, SportsChannel lost the contract to Heat telecasts to then rival Sunshine Network. Heat games would return years later when both networks came under the ownership of Fox.
In 1996, Wayne Huizenga purchased a 70% controlling interest in SportsChannel Florida from Rainbow Media (by that time, a joint venture between Cablevision and NBC). That led Huizenga to move his Florida Panthers from Sunshine Network to SportsChannel for the 1996–97 season. Huizenga's Florida Marlins would also leave the Sunshine Network in favor of SportsChannel in 1997. In 1998, SportsChannel Florida gained rights to MLB expansion team Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Unlike the rest of SportsChannel America, Huizenga's control of SportsChannel Florida prevented it from joining Fox Sports Net in early 1998. Cablevision finally bought back Huizenga's share of the network in 2000. The network was relaunched as Fox Sports Net Florida on March 1, 2000, making it the last SportsChannel Network to adopt the Fox Sports Net brand. In a 2005 deal involving several other shared assets of Fox and Cablevision, Fox gained full ownership of FSN Florida.
The channel has the rights to the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), Miami Marlins (MLB), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Florida Panthers (NHL), Miami Heat and Orlando Magic (NBA) as well as local coverage of the Big East, Atlantic Sun, Conference USA, and Atlantic Coast college sports conferences. Parts of southern Alabama and Georgia receive the channel, in addition to all of Florida.
For the first 21 years of its existence, the channel was not available to most cable subscribers in the Orlando area due to the largest cable system in central Florida, Bright House Networks, refusing to air the channel. The conflict began when the cable provider was called Cablevision (not affiliated with the Bethpage, New York-based cable provider of the same name), and continued through its acquisition by Time Warner Cable and, later, Bright House. This issue did not change when Sun Sports, which is carried by Bright House Networks, was acquired by Fox Sports. The Orlando Magic moved half their televised game schedule from WRBW (channel 65) to Fox Sports Florida in 2007, but this still did not change the situation.
Fox bought Orlando-area UPN affiliate WRBW (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) in 2001, and then bought Fox affiliate WOFL (channel 35) in 2002. On paper, this gave Fox the right to require Bright House to carry Fox Sports Florida as part of the retransmission consent compensation for carrying WOFL and WRBW. However, Fox chose not to do so. On January 1, 2009, Bright House's Orlando system finally began carrying Fox Sports Florida for digital cable subscribers on channel 50.
It was also not available to Comcast cable subscribers in the Sarasota and Tallahassee areas until it was added in 2006. While it is available to Jacksonville subscribers, Magic games are not shown on its feed either. Comcast in Lake County also does not carry the channel.
FSN's now-former parent company, News Corporation (which spun off the Fox Sports Networks and other entertainment properties to 21st Century Fox in 2013), and Bright House reached a new retransmission agreement on January 1, 2010, preventing both Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports from being dropped from the Bright House lineup.
Through Sun Sports, South Florida residents can view Miami Heat basketball, as those Central and Northern Florida can view Orlando Magic basketball. Ultimately however, Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida are sister channels, and games can air on either channel depending on who is playing at what time (particularly with the Marlins and Rays, since both teams routinely play at concurring start times). The two channels do not focus on one region of Florida, but simply distribute games in accordance with each team's territorial rights so that the Lightning, Heat, Marlins, Rays, Magic, and Florida Panthers are all cable-exclusive.
Fox Sports Florida HD
- Brian Anderson - Tampa Bay Rays analyst
- Jill Arrington - host
- Tony Fiorentino - Miami Heat analyst
- Steve Goldstein - Florida Panthers play-by-play
- Matt Guokas - Orlando Magic analyst
- Tommy Hutton - Miami Marlins analyst
- Todd Kalas - Tampa Bay Rays pre-game and in-game reporter
- Craig Minervini - Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers pre-game and in-game reporter
- Dewayne Staats - Tampa Bay Rays play-by-play
- Bill Lindsay - Florida Panthers analyst
- Eric Reid - Miami Heat play-by-play
- Cookie Rojas - Miami Marlins analyst (SAP)
- David Steele - Orlando Magic play-by-play
- Raul Striker, Jr. - Miami Marlins play-by-play (SAP)
- Rich Waltz - Miami Marlins play-by-play
- FSN Florida/Sun Sports Personality Biography Page[dead link]
- Kevin Kennedy - Tampa Bay Rays analyst (2009-2010)
- Joe Magrane - Tampa Bay Rays analyst (1998-2009) Now with MLB Network
- Dave Wirth - USF Bulls Basketball Play-by-Play and Tampa Bay Rays show host (1991-2002)