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Alex Ashkinos

Comm. 298P 0102


News Report Paper
Due: 23 October 2015
Fox Sports Outage Broadcast: World Series Game 1
Fox Sports has broadcasted every World Series since 2000, and pays the MLB an
average of $500 million annually through an eight-year deal in order to cover the entire
series. The network is currently broadcasting the 2015 MLB World Series between the
New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. Fox Sports is a division of the Fox
Broadcasting Company owned by 21st Century Fox. This past Tuesday on October 27,
game one was broadcasted on the network and had the largest audience since the 2010
World Series with roughly 14.9 million viewers. For such a large company, even this
amount of viewers can put a lot of pressure on an organization such as Fox.
It was the fourth inning of a very intense game with a tied score of 1-1 when the
unthinkable happened. An electronic failure cut the power to the primary and backup
generators inside Fox Sports production compound. In seconds, 14.9 million viewers
went from watching an incredibly close championship opening game, to a screen
containing only the Fox Sports logo and words that read We are experiencing technical
difficulties, please stand by. For such a large audience filled with emotion, anxiety and
intensity during such an important game, a mistake like this could be detrimental for the
network. By definition, a crisis is a major occurrence with a potentially negative outcome
affecting the organization, company, industry as well as its publics, products, services or
good name. Under the circumstances, this power outage is easily identifiable as a crisis

for Fox Sports. During this crisis, while engineers were working on fixing the technical
problem, it was up the Fox Sports Public Relations department to communicate
efficiently and effectively with its viewers in order to reach out to its confused and
enraged audience while maintaining its positive reputation.
Twitter was one of the first channels used to communicate with its viewers when
Fox Sports tweeted, We apologize for technical difficulties with our #WorldSeries
Broadcast, We are working on fixing the issue ASAP. In this one example, two crisis
management strategies are easily identifiable in Fox Sports tweet. One strategy used in
the tweet was corrective action, when the organization explained that they are working on
fixing the issue and are repairing the damage so that it will not happen again. Another
strategy used is a full apology, which the organization starts its tweet with. Both of these
examples of strategies are part of Coombs list of crisis communications strategies, which
were carried out almost immediately after the power outage. Once the issue was solved
Fox Sports made another public apology, an image restoration method known as
mortification.
The public relations theory most clearly used for this situation was the situational
theory of public. Each of the theorys three independent variables were used, including
problem recognition, constraint recognition and level of involvement. It was clearly
shown that Fox Sports was able to identify the problem almost immediately because they
tweeted about the situation with efficiency and had engineers working on the problem the
second the problem occurred. Also the Fox Sports constraint recognition was effective
because the organization was able to quickly strategize about fixing the problem and
keeping the public aware through social media, showing the organizations ability to do

something about the issue. The level of involvement was also clearly present because the
organization did everything they could have done at the time to resolve the issue without
major damage.
Overall the result of the power outage lasted only four minutes, leaving millions
of baseball fans confused for a short amount of time. Fox Sports later claimed that the
channel does not expect any financial impact from the outages. During such a major
game with so many viewers watching, there is no doubt that anger and outrage filled the
hearts of so many fans, and the only organization they could blame was the company
with its logo replacing what should be the World Series. I believe that the organizations
ability to successfully manage the crisis resulted in little to no harm for the organization.
Although there was a lot of room for error, Fox Sports quick and effective response to
the crisis minimized potential damage, and is a perfect example of crisis management and
the role public relations can have on an organization.