FS1’s First Things First Has the Feel of a Network Morning Chat Show
New program is produced out of Fox News studio in Manhattan
On Tuesday, a new era of morning sports television was born on FS1 with the launch of First Things First With Cris Carter and Nick Wright.” It’s the network’s first true morning show (6:30-9:30 a.m. ET), and the studio’s prime location in Midtown Manhattan within the Fox News building promises the sort of big-time guests and celebrities that characterize network morning shows but not sports-network morning shows.
“Fox Sports and Fox News have always had a great working relationship,” says Fox Sports President/COO Eric Shanks. “When we were looking at options, this was clearly our first choice as this building is our home in New York and we have a lot of people based here. And,” he adds, “this building has great production facilities.”
One aspect of the space that impacts the on-air look is a massive column in the room, which required a different approach to the traditional talk-show set.
“This is a very asymmetrical set,” Shanks points out. “A lot of people design chat shows to be symmetrical, but the sightline here is completely off-center, and it actually turns out to be visually interesting: the LED monitor is not centered behind the guests, and the desk is not a circle. It looks really good on TV and is different from everything else you see in the sports-chat space.”
A new look is only one part of the puzzle. The most important is what hosts Cris Carter, Nick Wright, and Jenna Wolfe bring to the show and how being in New York City can offer unique guest opportunities.
“Being in New York is going to provide a lot of great access to people who are in town making the talk-show rounds,” says Shanks. “And anyone who is doing those shows will love to come in here and talk sports. But it all starts with Cris, as the show is built around him. Nick has unique things to say, and Jenna adds a level of energy that is second to none. This show is going to hit the ground running and, like any show, will probably be very different in a couple of months.”
In terms of the tone of the show, Shanks says that the day’s events will dictate it but that Carter’s attitude is to wake up every day wanting to win and help the people around him win.
“He has a super-positive attitude, and that is going to come through first and foremost,” says Shanks. “So we will have very insightful and opinionated talk about the day in sports, as, by the time everyone wakes up, they already know the facts of who won, got traded, or hurt. Now you can tune in at 6:30 ET to hear what it all means.”
The launch of the show comes at a difficult time for some in the Fox Sports family. Fox Sports Media Group has a major playout and production facility in The Woodlands, TX, 30 miles north of Houston. During and following Hurricane Harvey, some staffers and upwards of 20 family members sheltered at the Fox facility.
“The good news is that our facility was designed at the exact right geographic location and was designed to handle things like this,” says Shanks. “Our attention now that we have protected our employees the best we could is to turn to getting people’s lives back together. We will have an internally administered fund so that employees can apply for assistance to get back on their feet.”