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FSN Prime Ticket Joins Name Game

The regional sports network that brings games involving Southern California teams into your living room has played a confusing name game over the years.

Now the past is its future.

The network started out in 1985 as Prime Ticket. No problem there. Prime Sports was not as good but OK. Then Fox took over and the confusion began with the name Fox Sports Net West.

Viewers weren’t sure what the difference was between Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net. They slowly learned that one was an over-the-air network while the other was a collection of regional sports networks -- including Fox Sports Net West -- available on cable and satellite TV.

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Then Fox Sports Net West split in 1997, and Fox Sports Net West 2 was born. But did the “2" mean it was secondary, less important?

Fox tried to dispel any doubts by putting one of Los Angeles’ marquee teams -- the Dodgers -- on West 2. It didn’t quite work.

Then a few years ago they simplified things, shortening the names to FSN West and FSN West 2.

Now Fox is going back to its roots.

On April 3, the day the Dodgers open the season against the Atlanta Braves, FSN West 2 becomes FSN Prime Ticket.

A marketing campaign will include on-air promotions as well as advertising on billboards and throughout Southern California and placards on the sides of buses.

Deciding on a new name was not easy.

At a news briefing this week, Steve Simpson, vice president and general manager of FSN West and FSN West 2, said the process took 1 1/2 years and involved focus groups that revealed there still was viewer confusion and West 2 still was seen as secondary.

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Simpson said they also learned that the name Prime Ticket evoked good memories. It also would allow the two networks equal billing.

With the name change, the “Southern California Sports Report,” which has evolved into mostly a postgame show anyway, will be replaced with “Lakers Live,” “Dodgers Live,” “Angels Live” and other such post-game shows.

In other words, if you want national sports news, turn to ESPN, but if you want in-depth local coverage, turn to FSN West and FSN Prime Ticket.

Simpson said there would be more locally produced shows on the two networks and more emphasis on high school sports. Beginning this fall, there will be a state football championship game and FSN Prime Ticket will televise it.

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Asked whether this format change was the result of budgeting concerns, Simpson said, “No, this is not a cheaper route. We are going to play to our strength, and that is local coverage. That’s our business plan.”

Executive producer Tom Feuer agreed.

“What we’re planning to do is actually more expensive,” he said. “We are making a significant investment.”


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