Regis Philbin, the 81-year-old television idol, is less than a year removed from his spot on the morning talk show circuit, but yesterday it was revealed he will headline a brand new national Fox Sports network that parent company News Corporation hopes will challenge mega-conglomerate ESPN.
Philbin last hosted “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” but stepped away last year to retire.
The new network will be called Fox Sports 1, and Philbin will host a panel show called “Rush Hour” airing between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., directly competing with two of ESPN’s top programs, “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption.”
Attracting a younger audience is not a concern for Fox executives, and Philbin has already shown he can hold his own with two of ESPN’s more bombastic personalities in Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on the debate-centered morning show “First Take.”
Notre Dame’s biggest and perhaps most famous fan will have a strong bevy of programming backing him up. With an expected debut of Aug. 17, the new network will broadcast NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, UEFA Champions League Soccer, college basketball and football games, and Major League Baseball.
According to Time, News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch has long had a plan to take on the “World Wide Leader,” with his new network reaching 90 million living rooms, but is also hoping to compete with new sports channels launched by NBC and CBS.
Philbin could be an excellent bridge between older and younger audiences. His numerous appearances on the “Late Show with David Letterman” have shown the host is not afraid to make himself the butt of jokes, and he even handled TMZ better than most celebrities have in the past.
The below video aired before the Fighting Irish took on Alabama in the BCS National Championship game on “First Take” and Philbin didn’t back down.