Fox Sports 2 (FS2) is an American sports-oriented pay television channel that is owned by the Fox Sports Media Group, a unit of Fox Corporation. The channel is based at the Fox Sports division's headquarters in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, California.
The network was founded as Fuel TV on July 1, 2003, focusing on the culture of extreme sports, including skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, motocross, surfing, BMX and FMX. The network's prominence expanded further with the introduction of UFC mixed martial arts programming to its lineup in 2012 as part of a wider deal with Fox Sports. On August 17, 2013, Fuel TV was rebranded as Fox Sports 2, refocusing primarily as an overflow channel for the newly launched mainstream sports network Fox Sports 1. The relaunch of Fuel TV as FS1's sister network received little advanced promotion.
As of January 2016, approximately 50,836,000 households (43.674 percent of households with TV) receive Fox Sports 2.
As Fuel TV
The network's concept originated in several extreme sports programming concepts. One of them originated from Alistair Gosling, founder of the Extreme Sports Channel and Extreme Sports TV distribution and production company Extreme. The concept, taken by Gosling to David Sternberg of Fox Sports Net, focused on expanding the coverage of extreme sports. This was translated into growing the existing programming block on the regional sports networks Fox Sports Net airing in the early evenings during the early 2000s on the network's affiliates, which included Blue Torch TV and EX TV, and combining it with brokered arrangements for individual shows which included among others New Waves Surf Television and 16MM, along with ideas from the Europe-based Extreme Sports Chanternberg, CJ Olivares and Lloyd Bryan Adams.
Another spoke was the network's name, from a concept conceived and launched by independent producer Chris Braly as a weekly regional music and extreme sports broadcast that debuted on September 8, 2001 on WB affiliate WFLI-TV (channel 53, now a CW affiliate) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, using paid programming time on that station on Saturday evenings. News Corporation eventually negotiated a buyout of the concept and trademark in late 2003. The regional weekly version of Fuel TV aired its final episode on WFLI in September of that year.
The Fuel TV cable and satellite channel featured programs ranging from original series, exclusive events, licensed films and creative interstitials. Extreme sports programming was formerly the bulk of the network, with a diverse combination of sports, music, reality programming, extreme sports news and other content, including comedic programs.
Beginning in late 2011, Fuel became the official cable home of the Ultimate Fighting Championship as part of a broader agreement between Fox and the mixed martial arts promotion, featuring pre-match and analysis programming involving the circuit such as the weekly UFC Tonight, along with undercard fights for UFC pay-per-view events. By the second half of 2012, Fuel TV's lineup consisted solely of combat sports (such as MMA and boxing) and reruns of reality programs from sister channel Speed.
With the 2012–13 Premier League season, extra live and recorded Premier League matches were carried on Fuel TV, giving Fox Soccer three venues to carry live matches on Premier League match days; this began in May 2012 with Fuel carrying one of nine games on the final day of the Premier League season as part of Fox Sports's "Survival Sunday" effort to air all that day's Premier League matches across the division's cable properties. In March 2013, Fuel TV began adding weekly telecasts of rugby league matches from the Super League, the Championship, featuring clubs from, e.g. the United Kingdom and France, on Monday afternoons.
Relaunch as Fox Sports 2
In January 2013, alongside reports that Speed was to be replaced by a national sports network known as Fox Sports 1 (which was officially announced by Fox on March 5, 2013 for an August 17 launch), it was reported that Fox was planning to rebrand Fuel TV as a companion network – Fox Sports 2 – a name which Fox had filed a trademark application for on November 27, 2012.
As opposed to the widely publicized launch of Fox Sports 1, the impending replacement of Fuel TV with Fox Sports 2 was met with relatively little fanfare, and was only announced roughly a week prior. The relaunch of the channel as Fox Sports 2 took place on August 17, 2013 at the same time that Speed was replaced by Fox Sports 1. Upon the relaunch, the channel was expanded into a mainstream sports service with a wider variety of content, although combat sports (such as UFC-related programs) remained an integral part of the lineup. Fuel's signature UFC program, UFC Tonight, moved over to Fox Sports 1 with the launch.
On July 9, 2016, the first bout of the UFC 200 preliminary card aired on Fox Sports 2, after a Major League Baseball on Fox Sports 1 went beyond the scheduled time. It earned an average audience of 582,000, the highest in the history of the network. On April 22, 2017, a similar problem happened at the UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Lobov; the first main card bout aired on Fox Sports 2 with an average audience of 430,000, the second best in the network's history.
Fox Sports 2 features reruns of some of the news and analysis programs broadcast by Fox Sports 1. Sports programming continues to include UFC-related programs (including UFC Unleashed and live UFC Fight Night events), and overflow coverage of events aired by Fox Sports 1, such as Big East basketball and NASCAR. Limited coverage of the Australian Football League moved to Fox Sports 2 from Fox Soccer Plus (simulcast from Australia via the Seven Network along with full coverage of the State of Origin series live from Australia's Nine Network. This move has proven popular with fans in the United States due to the growing fanbase for Australian rules football in the country. According to the websites of the Australian Football Association of North America and Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Sports has extended its current deal until 2016. Fox Sports 2 televised some regular season games and finals matches, while most of the 2015 season was aired on Fox Soccer Plus. As of 2019, UFC-related programming no longer airs on the channel due to UFC's new deal with ESPN which started that same year.
In May 2018, it was reported that due to viewer backlash surrounding a preemption of part of a Washington/Stanford football game from FS1 to FS2 due to a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, that Fox would now prefer using Fox Business Network (which has distribution more in line with FS1, and only carries non-critical paid programming on weekends) for Pac-12 overflow in the future.
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