Today’s Sports Business Journal (a subscription service) offers a look at how some in the sports media view what’s offered by the NFL as a TV product.
Without getting in trouble, we’ll give you some excerpts:
The pannel: Newsday’s Neil Best, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jay Posner, SportingNews.com’s Dan Levy, The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre and FangsBites.com’s Ken Fang :
Q: Which network offers the best Sunday pregame show?
Levy: Do you like former players giggling, chuckling or cackling? Any pregame show that employs (or has employed) Frank Caliendo is out of the running. The NBC show has the heaviest hitters, but the program doesn’t benefit from those big names. It’s bloated. Honestly, I’ve always been a fan of the ESPN show. It’s about six hours long, so they have plenty of time for yucks, while giving some good features as well.
Fang: I like “Fox NFL Sunday.” Analysts Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson have a very good chemistry and adding Michael Strahan has given the show a contemporary. The show can be too much of a yuckfest at times, but to me, it’s a better show than “The NFL Today,” “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “NFL Gameday Morning.”
Best: ESPN. Better content-to-yucks ratio than Fox or CBS.
Posner: Fox (although I’ve never seen NFL Network’s because I have Time Warner Cable)
Q: Which network has the best studio team?
Fang: Last season, I would have said “Football Night in America” with Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth, but that show went through a big upheaval with John Madden’s retirement. I do like NFL Network’s “Gameday Final” crew with Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci. Their chemistry is good and Mariucci has become one of the better studio analysts. With a bigger audience thanks to its agreement with Comcast, I feel Mariucci will get some greater appreciation for his work.
Levy: I don’t think anyone can compete with NBC’s parts. They just don’t add up. The best team is the group at CBS. Shannon Sharpe notwithstanding, there’s nobody better at driving through the traffic than James Brown, and Boomer Esiason is the best studio analyst in the game.
Best: I’ll go with Fox, which took a risk by adding Strahan to a long-term group and ended up greatly enhancing its roster of analysts.
McIntyre: I’d lean to the NBC Sunday night crew, mostly because it seems to steer clear — or try to — of the ex-jock blowhards that pollute the other networks.
Q: Which network boasts the best package of games?
Best: For one game a week, it’s obviously NBC, but as an old NFC beat writer, I’ll take the totality of Fox’ regionalized games over the slate of what NBC offers on a one-game-a-week basis.
Levy: By the nature of the deal NBC has with the NFL, they’re always going to have good games, especially later in the season. But one game a week isn’t really a package of games. This year, I’d have to go with Fox as there are far more storylines in the NFC (even if Michael Vick’s first game back will be on CBS). Add a clunker of a division in the AFC West and there seem to be more compelling games on Fox this season.
Fang: This is a tie between Fox’ NFC package and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” And it shows with the two packages being the highest-rated for the NFL. Fox’ package is in bigger markets and, usually, they have marquee matchups for the Sunday doubleheader game. For “Sunday Night Football,” the ability to schedule games into primetime helps NBC to ensure it has good games late into the season. It’s a tie between Fox and NBC.
Q: Best announcing team?
Levy: This is an easy one. Cris Collinsworth has really come into his own and is one of the best — and most unabashed — commentators in the game. And Al Michaels is the goods. He’s the best there’s ever been, and through the years, really hasn’t lost a step. Honorable mention to Marv Albert and Esiason on the radio call, which is very good as well.
Fang: Last season, it was Al Michaels and John Madden, but with Madden gone, I really don’t have a choice. It’s too early to judge how Cris Collinsworth will mesh with Michaels on “Sunday Night Football.” The jury is also out on the new “Monday Night Football” team of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, although I like what I’ve seen from them. I’ll go with Fox’s Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. It’s an entertaining team and can be quite informative when Siragusa sticks to football and doesn’t talk about eating.
McIntyre: Tough to pick against Nantz and Simms. Great chemistry. Not much nonsense.
Posner: Nantz-Simms, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Michaels-Collinsworth rise to this spot.