Given the rise of the NFL as the country’s ultimate sport in terms of overall popularity and the god of gods — TV ratings — it only stands to reason that with that comes coverage in all forms to equal that adoration of all things pigskin.
For their part, broadcasters, national and local, are obliging with pregame coverage as the season kicks off for another multibillion dollar excursion through sports fans’ wallets and psyches.
Apparently there’s no such thing as oversaturation and overkill, especially considering the fact that the country still has two recently rebranded national sports channels in NBCSN and CBS Sports Network and a newborn in Fox Sports 1.
When football fans shake off the preseason doldrums caused by watching abhorrent football for a month, they’ll be treated to no fewer than eight pregame shows — six of which will analyze every matchup — to greet the day and two others that will focus on the Browns.
The two Browns-centric shows are Tailgate 19 (11 a.m.) on WOIO (Channel 19) and Browns Pregame Huddle (11:30 a.m.) on WKYC (Channel 3).
The national shows are CBS’s The NFL Today (Noon) on Channel 19; the CBS Sports Network’s That Other Pregame Show (9 a.m.); ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m.); Fox Sports 1’s NFL Kickoff (11 a.m.); Fox’s NFL Sunday (11:30 a.m.) on WJW (Channel 8) and the NFL Network’s NFL Gameday Morning (10 a.m.).
I had to take a breath to even type that.
That’s a lot of pregame shows for a pie that can only be so big. The NFL and broadcasters might like to think otherwise, but plenty of people find other things to do on Sundays (Brunch? Roaming big box stores knowing that there’s a chance they’ll be able to check out without having to wait more than 15 minutes in a line? Rearrange their sock drawers?) besides watch football.
Look at NBCSN. It said it was all in on English Premier League soccer and wouldn’t you know it? It wasn’t a lie, scheduling matches to air opposite NFL games. The nerve.
To think major national broadcasters wouldn’t concentrate on the fall’s biggest sports day with programming before game time would be naïve. Other than talent associated with the broadcasts, producing such shows is relatively cheap.
But there is some element of overkill here, especially when considering the fact that ESPN and the network pregame shows already possess the talent and respective brand names to continue their domination. Ditto for the local shows that offer something that isn’t readily available from national experts — perspective and analysis from those who follow the team on a daily basis.
The other cable networks?
In the case of CBS Network, unless they’re getting the crazed early morning football-from-sunup-to-sundown fan that will tune in at 9 a.m., they’ll be fighting for crumbs. It’s just a matter of how big those crumbs are to provide a reason to watch.
“It’s going to be very freewheeling and very loose,” said Sean McManus chairman of CBS Sports and executive producer for The NFL Today said of his cable entry. “I’m looking forward, since it is being shot in the studio right next to the main studio where The NFL Today is being produced, to having Boomer (Esiason), coach (Bill) Cowher, James Brown, Shannon (Sharpe) and Dan Marino occasionally walking across to give their perspective on what is happening in the league and their perspective on anything they want to.”
Freewheeling? That describes every NFL pregame show to some degree. They all — with an occasional serious moment — exist to give guys and increasingly women a reason to sit around for a few hours and talk about a game. About the only thing missing is beer, chips and wings.
Ultimately the winner here is the rabid, barking football fan, but it’s also possible — even for them — to gorge on too much of a good thing.
As for postgame
SportsTime Ohio has that covered for Browns fans with Browns Overtime, which will be hosted by Andre Knott, Browns Daily’s Vic Carrucci and WKNR’s (850-AM) Je’Rod Cherry.
Overtime will air at 10 p.m. throughout the football season and feature interviews with Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and Browns players, according to a news release.
Getting in on the act
Next to Knott, who has gigs all over Northeast Ohio’s broadcast spectrum, WEWS (Channel 5) sports director Andy Baskin might be the busiest guy in the area covering the team.
The TV station announced Thursday the creation of DAWGS on the Run, a show they’re calling a mobilecast which will run from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. each Monday. No rules. Fans can use Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google and phone. The brilliance of the move, other than providing Browns fans with some early Monday morning psychology? You have to access it through the NewsChannel 5 app. Check your assorted stores folks.
For those wondering, Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will do play-by-play and color respectively for Sunday’s Browns-Miami Dolphins season opener, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ... Take heart Browns fans: At least one national broadcaster, ESPN’s Damien Woody, is picking the Browns to do well. He’s projected them to win one of two AFC wild-card spots … Fox Soccer went out with a whimper instead of the thud from a ball being booted. The station quietly morphed into FXX, a Fox entertainment channel focused on 18- to 34-year-olds.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Sports Media blog at http://www.ohio.com/blogs/sports-media. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.