Is Katie Nolan about to take over Fox Sports?
It appears Fox Sports 1 is making room for their star-in-waiting to become the face of the network by reworking their lineup and laying off Canadian hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole.
A source has confirmed a report by Sporting News reporter Michael McCarthy that Fox Sports 1 is developing a number of new TV shows for Nolan, with her exposure expected to increase "five-fold" on the network following a successful test-run during the Super Bowl.
Part of the move to give Nolan more exposure involves removing her from Garbage Time, which has been popular among fans (and won her an Emmy) but limited her exposure to a weekly half-hour program. It's unclear if Garbage Time will stick around with a new host, or be removed from the network's lineup. The show is currently on hiatus.
The news was first reported by Awful Announcing's Ben Koo.
"We could not be more excited about Katie Nolan's future with FOX Sports and we look forward to further developing her role at FS1," Charlie Dixon, executive vice president of content for FS1 and FS2, said in a statement.
The news comes after the network canceled its news and highlights show Fox Sports Live with Jay & Dan with no plans on renewing the contracts of hosts Onrait and O'Toole, which reportedly expire at the end of March. The show's 11 p.m. timeslot will be replaced with a mixture of shows until baseball season, when MLB Whiparound will air in its place.
"We've been committed to creating programming that resonates with sports fans. As part of that commitment, we are constantly assessing all of FS1's studio offerings, and despite changes to the format of Fox Sports Live and the popularity of Jay and Dan as individuals, we've made the difficult decision to move forward with other projects," Dixon said.
Onrait and O'Toole hosted the popular Canadian highlight show SportsCentre on The Sports Network from 2003 to 2013 before being hired by Fox Sports 1 to launch was was supposed to be the centerpiece of the network's attempt to compete with Sportscenter.
"Jay and Dan were rock stars," ESPN's Adnan Virk told Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch. "They were [Keith] Olbermann and [Dan] Patrick. They were huge stars. When they came here I was like, 'They will be revolutionizing things.' I don't know what has happened at Fox or what the direction is, but it has to be frustrating."
Still, the move isn't completely surprising, considering Fox Sports Live struggled to compete with ESPN's ratings. On Wednesday night, the show drew just 57,000 viewers, compared to the 556,000 viewers that ESPN pulled in during the same time slot with SportsCenter, according to TV Sports Ratings.
The show also predated the hiring of Jamie Horowitz last spring as national networks president, who prefers a strategy focused on opinion-based shows with sometimes controversial hosts like Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd. Since his hiring, the Fox Sports Live's format has shifted from a focus on highlights to more conversation, with the show receiving little to no promotion compared to Undisputed and Speak for Yourself.
Those comments didn't go over well with O'Toole, who fired out a angry tweet at the time that he later deleted.
"Hey @katienolan, great to see you are a team player. Can u feed my kids once you take our time slot? Thanks!" tweeted O'Toole.
In the coming months, Fox Sports 1 is also expected to launch two new programs that could be potential avenues for Nolan: A morning show to lead into Undisputed with Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe and Joy Taylor and an afternoon show to lead into Speak for Yourself with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Jason McIntyre.
Former Eagles wide receiver Cris Carter has been linked to the new morning show, reportedly testing last week beside potential co-host Nick Wright. The two successfully hosted The Herd with Colin Cowherd during a week at the end of December while Cowherd was on vacation.
One idea floated by McCarthy would be a morning show featuring Carter, Wright and former ESPN host Josh Elliott, who was fired by CBS News a couple of weeks ago.
"It would be like the Today Show for sports," a source told McCarthy.