Big Shakeup for Westminster Dog Show
As the world-famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show launches its 140th edition in New York Monday and Tuesday, news has leaked of a major shakeup. First, the show has ended its broadcast deal with NBC Universal and starting in 2017 will move to Fox. Second, this is the last year for host David Frei, who has been the voice of Westminster for 27 years.
Frei, who might be the best known authority on purebred dogs in the U.S., has been pushed out, according to an industry insider.
“Frei is unique in the TV commentator business. He is both nimble enough to host/navigate a lengthy, live broadcast and there may be no one who is more expert on the subject of purebred canines and the dog shows that give them their platform of celebrity,” the insider said.
While there are some 3,500 dog shows in the U.S. alone, only Westminster and the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day have significant TV coverage.
While Westminster is the most important event in the industry, crowning every year the dog that becomes a real and pop-culture celebrity, the National Dog Show has a much larger TV audience.
For the past 14 years, Frei has been a major part of both broadcasts.
“He has used these platforms to bring messages of responsible breeding and pet ownership best practices to a wide audience. Viewers love his insights about the many breeds of dog on show.”
According to the insider, Westminster Kennel Club president Sean McCarthy wanted Frei to end his relationship with the National Dog Show if he wanted continue in his roles as host of Westminster TV coverage and as the club’s fulltime public relations operative.
Frei is taking the high road and offers only that an expanded NBC role affords him new development opportunities and more time to work with his Angel on a Leash therapy dog nonprofit. Westminster said only that the changeover to Fox has taken them in a new direction.