Football Night in America

Last year when NFL Primetime signed off the air for its final time as a Sunday evening recap show I wondered if we would really miss it. My question was answered last night as for the first time I saw the worst NFL recap show ever conceived by television. NBC has proven that old media is dead and the fat cats at the big three have no clue on how to attract the younger fans of today.Chris Berman with Tom Jackson on ESPN“Hello McFly!?” The NFL isn’t the Olympics. You can’t pull John Williams out of retirement to write a symphonic masterpiece that redefines the sport. When viewers tune in to see the recap of the game they missed earlier in the day you don’t show all the scores up front and the highlights later. And please, if the king of sports media and everyone else didn’t want him, you don’t place Sterling Sharpe front and center to provide insight. The man has none.

What made NFL Primetime work on ESPN for 19 years was the immediacy of recapping each game with highlights and stats, and the energy that both Chris Berman and Tom Jackson injected into the program. Each game even the dogs of the day were given equal footing, attention, and hype. No mention of the match up was made until all the footage and commentary could be provided at once. There was suspense and drama in each game presented. It was for the real fan.

I argue that NFL Primetime on ESPN followed by the Sunday Night game did more to grow the NFL than Monday Night Football did. Sure MNF no doubt broadened the NFL’s fan base. But ESPN took the ball from there and actually solidified football as America’s favorite pro sport. They knew the viewer, what the viewer wanted and wasn’t getting from the broadcasters, and they delivered consistent programming each year.

God forbid that the Sunday night game go to NBC. In so doing the NFL granted exclusivity to NBC for the highlight show. Now we have Costas. Costas is just a box of generic corn flakes, not even Kelloggs, who drank a soda before hitting the air to get his energy level up. He’s great for the Olympics… on second thought maybe this is why the Olympics ratings have been steadily declining. Scrap that, he stinks and should be banished from all sportscasting.

Football night in America. Please. I wager that before the end of the season that MNF as an entire package on ESPN is beating the Sunday night show and game on NBC on ratings hands down. What makes “football night in America” isn’t the day of the week that the games are on, it’s the night of the week that the fans tune in and make it so. NBC stinks. ESPN has them beat running away and thus the fans will return to Monday night once again.

As for Sunday evenings, I guess I’ll have to spend them watching Survivor reruns until kickoff.

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