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Countdown to Coverage: College Football’s Best TV Show

“College football is all over television on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All of those games require A LOT of studio coverage.”

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College football season is nearly here.

Forget last Saturday. It’s called Week 0 for a reason. Do you really want to believe the first game of the 2022 season was 3-9 Northwestern and 3-9 Nebraska playing halfway around the world?

Here at Barrett Sports Media, we are celebrating college football from a media angle. All week long, our editors and resident college football superfans, Arky Shea, Demetri Ravanos and Garrett Searight, will be looking at the best the media has to offer in terms of college football coverage.

The entire schedule is as follows:

MONDAY: Best Local Show

TUESDAY: Best National Radio Show

WEDNESDAY: Best College Football Podcast

THURSDAY: Best TV Show

FRIDAY: Best TV Play-by-Play Booth

College football is all over television on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All of those games require A LOT of studio coverage. So who does it best?

Do you prefer the pageantry and storytelling of College Gameday? Maybe the no-nonsense approach of Big Noon Kickoff is more your speed. What if the best TV show isn’t on in a pregame window?

As we inch closer to the inevitable tag team main event featuring the SEC and ESPN versus the Big Ten and FOX, this discussion may end up being the college football media’s most important pissing contest. Here are our picks for college football’s best TV show.

COLLEGE GAMEDAY by Arky Shea

You can debate the validity of any show you want, the king is still ESPN’s College GameDay. The show kicked off it’s 36th season and has lapped the field in terms of college fandom allegiance and tradition. The desk lineup is loaded with names that you associate with the sport: Rece Davis who has deep ties into college football as a graduate of the University of Alabama, Desmond Howard, a Heisman Trophy winner that’s been giving his hot takes since 2005 on GameDay, Kirk Herbstreit who has become the most influential broadcasting voice in the sport. THE MOST. And of course Lee Corso, a man that pioneered something so collegiate, so simple and so brilliant that nobody else can ever do it! Only one man’s headgear prediction matters.

It’s become everyone’s Saturday wake-up call for a reason. There is a chemistry on that set that is so pure that it’s morphed long ago into familial status. There’s not another college football TV show that effortlessly entertains the sport’s diehards until kickoff like GameDay. It will take a lot to knock the crown off their head. The show has spearheaded so many ideas we take for granted about a pregame show like showing up on location, promoting fan’s to bring their own signage and inviting celebrities to the table to beef up the curb appeal. Hands down, College GameDay still reigns.

BIG NOON KICKOFF by Garrett Searight

College GameDay is a lot like my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I loved that car. I had so many memories with it that I will cherish until my dying day. I openly wept the day a man didn’t tie down rabbit cages in the back of his truck and I had to stop on the highway to avoid hitting them and someone rear-ended me and the Jeep was totaled. I was gonna drive that Jeep for another 150,000 miles. And then I switched to a new car, and while I still love that old Jeep, you realized there’s a whole new wave of automotive technology out there.

When Big Noon Kickoff hit the airwaves, I couldn’t help but sample it. Demetri wrote a story a few weeks ago that included the mission of Big Noon Kickoff was to be new and relevant and he couldn’t be more correct. I’m 32 years old. Desmond Howard — who last week said he couldn’t understand how Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who last year threw for 44 touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, was the Heisman frontrunner this year — won the Heisman Trophy the year after I was born. Kirk Herbstreit was Ohio State’s quarterback when I was in diapers. Lee Corso’s last year as a college head coach was a year after my mom graduated high school.

On the flip side, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart were college football during my formative years. Urban Meyer, while a troubling figure, is great on TV and won a National Championship coaching my favorite school in the last decade. Bob Stoops, who wasn’t nearly as great at TV as Meyer, was as worthy of a replacement as you could find. The Big Noon Kickoff cast is as relevant as one could assemble. Their puzzling insistence on using Clay Travis every Saturday notwithstanding, Big Noon Kickoff’s strictly-football approach is a welcomed change to GameDay’s broader, softer storytelling elements.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL FINAL by Demetri Ravanos

With all due respect to my colleagues, who I think are bright guys, the pregame ain’t it for college football on TV. We pregame all week and then the national media makes a hard pivot to the NFL the second the clock hits zero in Honolulu. A real college football fan knows the value and importance of College Football Final! It’s not just the late-night airing, it is the consecutive reruns on Sunday mornings that give us one last chance to contextualize everything that happened the night before.

The show has had problems in the past. I would argue that Lou Holtz made the show nearly unwatchable for years. I like what they have going now though. Matt Barrie brings the right level of snarkiness to the show alongside experts Joey Galloway and Jessie Palmer. The helmet stickers, the poll projections, the general sense of closure to the week are all needed on a Sunday before those of us that live and die with the college game turn our collective attention to the NFL.

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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The United Football League logo

FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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