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Fox Sports 1 will launch with DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable

Television IndustryFox Sports (tv network)Fox Broadcasting CompanyESPNTime Warner Cable Inc.Satellite and Cable ServiceDirecTV Group Inc.

Fox Sports 1 has struck agreements with three major distributors that will ensure that the new cable network will be available in the majority of pay-TV homes when the network launches this Saturday, people familiar with the matter said.

The three carriers -- satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish and cable operator Time Warner Cable -- all have agreed to carry Fox Sports 1 when it launches. Those three distributors combined reach over 40 million homes.

A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said it would have the channel on its systems when it launches. However, final distribution contracts are still being hammered out with all three companies.

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Fox Sports 1 is using real estate previously held by the Speed Channel. Fox was seeking a big fee increase from distributors to carry the network. According to industry consulting firm SNL Kagan, Speed received about 23 cents per-subscriber, per-month. The price Fox Sports 1 is seeking in the first year is said to be in the neighborhood of 80 cents, which is a likely sticking point in negotiations.

The network will debut this Saturday with a NASCAR race and ultimate fighting. Fox Sports 1 also will have a heavy load of college football and soccer. Next year, it will add Major League Baseball. Fox is also launching a sister channel this Saturday called Fox Sports 2.

Fox Sports 1 parent 21st Century Fox has a lot riding on the new sports channel, which it hopes will eventually challenge Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN empire.

ALSO:

Fox Sports 1 gears up to battle ESPN

News Corp. unveils long-anticipated sports network

Fox Sports 2 launching in August along with Fox Sports 1

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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