BJI Podcast: PBA CEO Tom Clark on Leaving ESPN for New Deal with FOX

by Gianmarc Manzione 0





LOS ANGELES and CHICAGO – The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) and FOX Sports today announced a multi-year, multi-platform agreement making FOX Sports the new television partner for the Go Bowling! PBA Tour starting in 2019. The package will bring a substantial schedule of live PBA events to television, including prime time events and a new bracket-style, multi-week PBA Playoffs tournament that concludes with a unique PBA championship finale. The announcement was made by PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark and William Wanger, FOX Sports EVP of Programming, Live Operations and Research.

“The PBA has been searching for the best possible broadcast partner to serve our fans, players and the bowling industry, and we have determined that partner is FOX Sports,” Clark said. “We are particularly excited that the PBA Tour returns to broadcast television, where it started 56 years ago, with shows on FOX next year.”

In 2019, FOX Sports will televise four PBA Tour shows on FOX and 25 on FS1 in a series of two-hour telecasts. All programs will also be streamed on FOX Sports GO. Details pertaining to the FOX Sports-PBA package regarding PBA Tour locations, dates and times, and the television announcing team will be released at a later date.

"FOX Sports is thrilled to add the highly rated PBA Tour to our extensive lineup, joining other sport partners including the NFL, the FIFA World Cup, MLB, NASCAR, MLS, UFC, NHRA, Supercross, USGA, college football and basketball, and others,” said Wanger. “We believe that adding a FOX Sports look and feel to bowling will help bring the sport to a whole new level.”

The PBA was represented in the transaction by Ed Desser of Desser Sports Media (

The agreement between FOX Sports and the PBA extends a non-stop television presence for professional bowling that began in 1962 with ABC Television’s 36 years of continuous coverage of the Pro Bowlers Tour and 38 consecutive years of coverage on ESPN, beginning with ESPN’s formation in 1979.

Both parties plan to supplement the broadcast and cable coverage of the PBA Tour’s premier events with live-streaming of preliminary rounds by PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel as well as extensive use of the FOX Sports and PBA Network outlets including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and their respective websites.


The Professional Bowlers Association is parting ways with long-time television partner ESPN, and has entered into a new agreement with FOX Sports, Bowlers Journal International has learned.

The multi-year, multi-platform agreement, which begins in 2019, calls for four PBA Tour telecasts on FOX and 25 on Fox Sports 1 during the first year. There also will be streaming on FOX Sports GO, and visibility on other platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and

FOX was launched in October of 1986, joining the “big three” networks — ABC, CBS and NBC. Early shows, including “The Simpsons” and “Married With Children,” were intended to carve out a niche with a younger demographic. During the 2007-08 season, fueled in large part by the “American Idol” singing competition series, FOX surpassed the “big three” in total viewership.

When FOX acquired rights to televise National Football League games in 1994, it formed its FOX Sports division. Its NFL broadcasts have a distinctive look, sound and feel, and those qualities are expected to become a part of the PBA’s telecasts.

FOX Sports 1 (better known as FS1) is FOX’s cable sports network, which airs everything from Major League Baseball to Major League Soccer. Rob Stone, who formerly called PBA telecasts on ESPN, is FOX Sports’s lead studio host for soccer, college football and college basketball programming. BJI could not confirm whether Stone would be a part of the bowling broadcast team on FOX.

FOX network television coverage for some telecasts reflects the PBA’s heritage, as “Pro Bowlers Tour” was featured on ABC from 1962 to 1997. There also was a “one-off” telecast of the PBA Tournament of Champions on ABC in 2011. The PBA also was a cable pioneer, as it provided some of the early programming that aired on ESPN when that cable network debuted. This is the PBA’s 38th season on ESPN.

The PBA still has six shows remaining on ESPN and five on CBS Sports Network this year.

Specific information regarding broadcast dates and times on FOX and FS1 are expected to be announced soon. Updates will be provided as information becomes available on, BJI’s Facebook page and the BJI Twitter feed.


BJI Subscribe Now