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FS1 Boss: Less Debate, More Conversation in New Version of Undisputed

What is the future of sports talk television? At FS1, the goal is fewer shouting matches and more conversations.

“It’s not like the debate part of sports television is going away because debate is intrinsic in sports conversations,” the network’s executive vice president of content, Charlie Dixon, told Sports Business Journal. “I just feel like with the audience, and where America is as a consumer right now, there’s enough strife going on in everybody’s day-to-day that doesn’t have to just be debate.”

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He says that will even show up in the new era of Undisputed, which returns to the daytime lineup next week. Although there have been reports that some inside of FS1 are not pleased that the show is going to a rotating cast format, Dixon says it is not merely copying First Take’s formula. Host Skip Bayless will have rotating partners instead of rotating opponents.

John Ourand writes that Richard Sherman and Keyshawn Johnson will be part of that rotation this fall. Dixon says finding topics where there is some agreement will give the show a chance to have new, different conversations for daytime sports television.

“It gives us more opportunity to have bigger conversations and go deeper into conversations, versus coming in with an in-the-moment take that is either going to be right or wrong,” he said.

Skip Bayless is a debater in the eyes of most sports tv viewers. Dixon is careful to note that he isn’t trying to eliminate any of his star’s strengths. Debate will still be a core tenant of Undisputed. It just won’t be all the show can do.

“We’re not running from the thing that worked for all these years. The best executives let the talent tell you who they are, and you listen. Over time you start figuring out the best way to support them.”

The list of panelists is long for the new era of Undisputed. Rachel Nichols and Lil’ Wayne have already been announced as regular contributors to the show. Ourand reports FS1 hosts Nick Wright & Emmanuel Acho are likely to make appearances as well.

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