Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News started his column today with a simple question. Why was Doug Gottlieb working as a sideline reporter for Fox’s coverage of the Chicago Bears’ visit to Miami this past weekend? Gottlieb himself acknowledges that he had never been on an NFL sideline before in his life.
Gottlieb is the company’s lead college basketball analyst. He is just outside the top ten for college basketball’s all-time assist leaders. He also hosts Fox Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb Show every weekday afternoon.
McCarthy found that the move was part of a growing trend. Fox has already given Colin Cowherd’s The Herd co-host Joy Taylor, UFC Tonight host Karyn Bryant, golf play-by-play announcer Shane Bacon and UFC Ultimate Insider’s Meg Olivi the chance to work on an NFL sideline. Fox isn’t alone either.
ESPN has allowed NFL Insider Adam Schefter to work as an NBA sideline reporter during the football offseason. It was part of his current contract. He told Sports Illustrated that it was important to him to prove to viewers and himself that he could do more than just what he was known for. “I know people think of me as this robot who doesn’t do anything outside of NFL news, injury reports, contact extensions, and hirings and firings. I love all that stuff but everyone likes to do things a little different or outside the box.”
Eddie Olczyk joined NBC Sports as part of their NHL coverage. He doubles as one of the network’s horse racing analysts. He is an avid horse racing fan and can offer an insider’s perspective to gambling on the sport.
McCarthy says that these opportunities are largely driven by four factors. First, it is a cost saving measure. It also can be used as a cross-promotional tool to expose fans of one sport to new personalities they might follow to other broadcasts. The move can be made as a reward and thanks for a job well done to the individual talent.
Those three factors all come from the network’s perspective. From the perspective of the talents themselves, McCarthy says that the desire to try covering other sports can be a negotiating tactic. It is a way to show the network, come contract time, that the talent’s services may be more valuable than first imagined.