IIt has long been understood that no viewer tunes in to watch a game’s broadcasters. Viewers tune in to, well, the game. The elements around that – the announcer, the play-by-play analyst, the side reporter – are interchangeable.
When Tony Romo was on the verge of hitting the Free Broadcasting Agency, reports of his proposed salary became a point of public contention, even among active players. Sure, Romo might be the best in the business right now, but is he really much more valuable than the average analyst or the second person on the CBS bench?
Romo’s deal made sense. ESPN offered Romo a record-breaking $ 20 million a year deal in an attempt to resurrect the declining Monday Night Football network brand. Romo instead reconnected with CBS for $ 17 million a year, a figure that will see him earn more than all but four active quarterbacks this season and would rank 10th among all active NFL players.
Broadcast companies pay the most money for top rated advertisers believing there is a tangible benefit. And while it is true that the barrier to entry is low, that no one listens to the broadcasters themselves, it is also true that bad broadcasters can set the mood, not so much for the audience as for the partner. corporate broadcast: the NFL.
The viewer might only care who calls the game up in the mythical sense of They Hate My Team. But the league office has put a lot of thought into the visual and audio presentation of its games. The Big Four want their production to run smoothly, to encourage people to hang around, flog commercials and stay in the good graces of the league’s headquarters for the next time rights deals are made. Think of it as an ever-changing streaming power leaderboard, if you will.
So, let’s classify ourselves in power.
One quick caveat: these are only game broadcasts, not the entire company’s inventory. ESPN’s NFL Live and The Matchup Show are by far the most informative and entertaining shows of any traditional network. But for that, we focus on match broadcasts.
Fox’s main broadcast team, led by Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews, has started to go stale. But it was the network’s undercard that reinvigorated broadcasts this season, pushing Fox past the mainstream NBC production on Sunday night.
The Kevin Burkhardt-Greg Olsen duo have already climbed to the top of the rankings, sitting firmly in the must-listen territory every Sunday. Informative, entertaining, the pair hit all the crucial markers. Olsen, the former Panthers tight end, is armed with all the knowledge to just get left the field. He knows the players. He knows the coaches. He gets the trends and patterns. And like at the start of Romo, there’s just enough broadcast naivety that he delivers all the juicy, insightful tidbits without feeling the need to downplay the information. At Olsen, Burkhardt now has the perfect foil for his brand of intelligence and humor.
But it’s not just the Burkhardt-Olsen team. Fox leaned heavily on the idea of pairing a player fresh off the pitch with a veteran broadcaster. Aqib Talib continues to bring a degree of chaos to the established order, providing informative and charming analysis at all times. Even Mark Sanchez, himself famous for his butt, has proven to be a sneaky good game analyst, though you’ll have to go through a steady dose of cringe-worthy gags designed to show Sanchez is. much more than a jock who plays football.
More importantly: The Fox executives finally gave in and brought the Gusgasm to the NFL in full force.
The addition of top rules analyst Mike Pereira only uplifts the score at this point.
The flagship of the league’s consistency continues to advance. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya, and the Sunday Night Football show have long been the league’s gold standard, aided by the cleanest graphics department and the best overall presentation – not to mention the best game of the week. .
Still, this will likely be the last year for the current NBC squad. NBC secondary reporter Tafoya is set to move away at the end of the season, according to the New York Post. Michaels is expected to follow suit, with Mike Tirico moving from part-time service to full-time niche. Michaels is the lead contender to be the voice of Thursday Night Football when Amazon takes back exclusive rights Next year.
Losing the trio on Sunday night will be a loss, but it opens up the exciting possibility of a new broadcast with new voices backed by the best supporting players in the industry.
Even the styles of Tony Romo and Jim Nantz and the best game of the afternoon aren’t enough to drag dust-soaked CBS shows into the top tier.
You have to hand it over to CBS: They shamelessly pursue the mature viewer. Between Greg Gumbel’s barks, you’re treated to a star-studded cast of Phil Simms, James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher who breaks it down. This is the kind of group that still considers Esiason, out of the league since 1997, to be their young pup.
The addition of Nate Burleson to the debates was a welcome step into the 21st century. But the same philosophy that drives the pre-game and mid-game show has crept into the match shows as well. It’s a sports television empire that seems to broadcast with a 1980s haze floating across the screen.
Romo and Nantz at their best remain the best in-game stand in the game. The further away from the game, however, the more Romo has drifted into his aw-shucks, don’t we all love football rather than the first style Romostradamus that earned him such a high approval rating. But he still delivers enough quarterback-centric nuggets to enlighten the viewer.
Of all the major shows, ESPN’s Monday Night Football continues to lag behind its rivals.
There are a lot of positives: Louis Riddick offers a refreshing insight, always focusing on the overall evolution of the game beyond the specific match he’s currently working on; Brian Griese is good for one to two unique glimpses of the game’s schematic makeup; the dynamics of the duo, one a former security and front office executive, the other a former quarterback, has its merits; Lisa Salters continues to reign as the league’s top sideline reporter.
After that, it’s thin pickings. No show misses more action as it tries to cram into a carefully crafted feature. The three-man booth, Reddick and Griese paired with Steve Levy, feels cramped. There is a general feeling that something is wrong. And that something is fun.
It’s a show that takes itself too seriously, as if everything about this stupid wonderful game needs to be hyper-analyzed in the moment rather than enjoyed – the balance that helps uplift Romo and Olsen.
Levy, the lead announcer, suffers from a strong Joe Tessitore-itus case. There is no modulation. There is nothing of Michaels’ faded charm about the state of a failed game. What is happening right now must to be the most important because Levy delivers every call with such volume and force, the high moment, perhaps, because he is called by Mr. Levy himself.
You know a show is in trouble when a few million viewers click on the associated show from its own network. ManningCast has become ESPN’s best option, although 40% of the broadcast remains unplayable due to poor internet connections. The lack of sparkle gave the ManningCast a sort of folk charm, like it was just another YouTube or Twitch show rather than a Walt Disney Corporation sanctioned NFL production run by one of the best quarterbacks of all generations.
Already, ManningCast already represents the seven most-watched “alternative broadcasts” on ESPN, and Amazon now has its eyes on poaching of the Manning brothers for his matches next season.
If anything, the show is a bit too loose. As the season progresses, the early season issues with wifi connections and the lack of overall production have only increased.
Yet few shows have more innate potential. It could expand, perhaps in a quarterback roundtable style with the participants all * shock, horror * in the same room. Or he could twitch, focusing more on Peyton and Eli watching a game than talking to college coach X about his next recruiting class in 30-minute delayed increments, echoing. Either way would be positive, and a welcome distraction from the bloated mess on the companies’ mainstream diet.
Ideally, ESPN would integrate ManningCast into the main broadcast. Otherwise, the company will consider another hard reset for what was once the most prestigious broadcast in professional football.