Television has done as much for the NFL as any professional sports league, but the relationship may be a little different after Sunday.
For the first time, the NFL is offering a regular-season game exclusively on the Internet. Well, folks in Buffalo and Jacksonville still can watch the Bills-Jaguars game on traditional TV, but others — even subscribers to DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” — will have to use their computers or mobile devices.
The 9:30 a.m. telecast from London is free and available on Yahoo.com, which will distribute the telecast on every platform imaginable. It will be produced by CBS, which has assigned the announcing team of Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and Jamie Erdahl.
To get a better idea of the implications of this venture, we reached out to Ken Fuchs, vice president of Yahoo’s media network, for insight.
Q: Do you consider this a historic moment for the Internet, broadcasting a live NFL game exclusively?
A: Not just for the Internet, but for the sports industry and the live broadcast industry, this is the first time there’s ever been a live, free, all-access, global broadcast of an NFL game. That’s a big thing considering the reach of sports, the reach of Yahoo and the popularity around every game that happens.
Q: What would be considered a success to you?
A: First and foremost, we want to provide a great experience for NFL fans and anybody who tunes in. We want to have the highest technical quality around the experience. We want them to feel like it’s an NFL broadcast in many respects.
Secondly, we do want to deliver a live experience that’s scaled to a big audience, and, thirdly, we have a lot of great advertising partnerships that we want to provide a really strong experience around as well.
Q: You have a lot of subscribers already, but did you have to do any additional reinforcement to make sure you could handle the potential volume of traffic?
A: No. Considering that every month we’re delivering content and video to a billion people around the world and 600 million or more on mobile devices, we’re always looking at how to ensure our structure is strong, that we’re delivering against whatever the experience might be, in this case, a live broadcast. It’s something that we spent extra time ensuring that we’re prepared. We understand the deliverables that we need to have at our end to ensure that a high, high number of people can come in and watch it.
Q: Do you look at this as a beginning of what you hope will be a partnership with the NFL?
A: We’ve had a longstanding partnership with the NFL in a number of different areas, video space and other ways. We value that partnership quite a bit. Our mutual success around that partnership is what led us to this moment. It wasn’t something that just came out of the blue. Going forward, based on the success we have around the game, both parties will look at it as, “What can we do next?”
Q: Looking at it from the NFL’s standpoint, is the way we’re consuming NFL games changing pretty quickly? In 5-10 years, will television not be the No. 1 distributor of NFL games?
A: There’s a lot of trends happening that are starting to shift more and more rapidly. You have, for the first time ever, a decline in cable subscribers. You have a millennial generation that is spending more time consuming video on the Internet than they are on actual traditional television. You are starting to see a lot of success with over-the-top (OTT) delivery of a wide variety of content types, from music, like we do with “Live Nation,” to over-the-air programming to live sports.
Live sports has always been a little bit of a bellwether because of the power that it brings and the fact that it’s feneral and the fact that it’s very social. The NFL is a bellwether for sports in this country. This is something where we think that there’s a transition that’s rapidly starting to happen. Everybody sees that happening, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of pushing it into that direction even more aggressively.
To read the rest of the interview visit the Times Union where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Gus Johnson: ‘Nobody Ever Told Me I Was Doing It Wrong’
“I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me.”
While fans get to hear Gus Johnson call big college football and college basketball games and get to see his reactions to memorable moments, he unfortunately never gets to see his own reaction, but he just enjoys being a part of sports, such as when he called Michigan-Ohio State for FOX this past Saturday.
Johnson was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show last week and he said while calling a game, he never wants to be too controversial and he appreciates that people choose to watch him during their times of relaxation.
“They say you never see yourself, you only see a reflection. You’ve never seen your face. You’ve only seen a reflection of your face as a human being. I can’t see myself. I would love to see myself during those moments because I sometimes don’t really understand the reaction. To me, I’m just watching the game, I’m a fan. I’m a journalist and I take that seriously, but more than anything, I’m just a fan of sports. Thank God for sports.
“People for the last almost 30 years have allowed me to come into their homes during their times of relaxation, rest, to spend time with their families. That’s important to me. When I call the game, I don’t want to be too controversial. I’m not trying to be 60 Minutes. I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me. It connects you to great moments in your life and in your mind.”
Before he got to FOX, Johnson was at CBS Sports from 1995-2011 calling some memorable NCAA Tournament games and NFL games that went down to the wire. In an era where criticism can be found easily, Johnson told Eisen that he never received criticism about his broadcast style from any of his bosses:
“Nobody ever told me that I was doing it wrong. That’s one thing I loved about the CBS experience. At CBS Sports, we had different kind of broadcasters. Our leader back then and still is Jim Nantz. He had his own style. We had Verne Lundquist, we had Dick Enberg there during that time. Don Criqui was there during that time. Not one time did anybody ever tell me that I wasn’t doing it right. Nobody ever said ‘Gus, don’t do it that way’. I would get negative criticism when the Internet started, but not from my bosses.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.
NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.
Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.
Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.
ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.
ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.
Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.
“The future ACC/SEC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Challenges will be outstanding events for our student-athletes, member institutions and fans,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “The SEC, led by Greg Sankey, and our partners at ESPN have been terrific, and there’s great excitement for the first annual ACC/SEC Challenge next season. As part of this announcement, we’d like to acknowledge the Big Ten for its partnership on the ACC/B1G Challenge that spanned more than 20 years.”
“We are excited women’s and men’s basketball student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete with their colleagues from the ACC as we initiate a new Basketball Challenge experience,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “I appreciate the collaboration of Jim Phillips and the ACC members, along with our broadcast partner ESPN, to make possible the SEC/ACC Basketball Challenge which will provide our fans with exciting basketball early in the 2023-24 season. I also thank the Big 12 for the many great challenge games we experienced together in past years.”
The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.