The new United States Football League kicks off in just over two weeks, and as teams have been preparing, NFL Films cameras have already been chronicling the journey.
On Wednesday, Fox Sports announced a partnership between the network, the league, and NFL Films that will culminate with a 13-episode series taking fans inside the USFL. United By Football: A Season in the USFL premieres April 16 at 6:30 ET on Fox, leading into the inaugural game between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions.
“Everyone at FOX Sports and the new USFL is united by our love for football,” said Bill Richards, EVP Production/Executive Producer, FOX Sports. “And the new league seeks to unite fans across the country who love the game as much as we do.
“To celebrate professional spring football, we’re giving fans unprecedented access by partnering with NFL Films to tell the stories of USFL players and coaches during the inaugural season.”
NFL Films crews documented February’s inaugural USFL Player Draft before training camps started in Birmingham. Fox says the 30-minute episodes will not be narrated, but rather told by the players and coaches themselves.
“We here at NFL Films could not be more excited and eager to partner with the USFL and FOX Sports on this upcoming series,” said Patrick Kelleher, NFL Films Vice President and Executive Producer. “The opportunity to document the start of a new professional league is incredibly rare, and we look forward to capturing the incredible sights and sounds throughout this inaugural season.”
Expect access to team meeting rooms akin to HBO’s Hard Knocks along with mic’d up players and coaches on the field, and crews chronicling the daily life in this new professional spring league.
“Hundreds of hours of material will be filmed, screened, and edited to produce what will no doubt be seven compelling hours of programming for football fans across America,” Fox Sports Executive Producer Joel Santos said.
Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+
“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”
Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.
Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.
“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”
Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.
Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+
“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”
As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.
Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.
Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.
“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”
The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.
“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”
Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live
“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”
Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.
“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”
The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.
Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.
“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.