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November 2007 Archives

Week 12 NFL Broadcast Preview

November 21, 2007 12:28 PM

Here’s a quick wrapup of broadcast of the Thanksgiving and weekend games before I hit the slopes this weekend. Have a great Thanksgiving!

The network gets back the double-header but finds itself pilfered of Colts and Patriots by other networks. However, it finds itself with an interesting angle for its Thanksgiving Day game, the Jets at the Cowboys, which features the battle of the brothers in Thomas and Julius Jones. During the Jets-Cowboys game, Grammy Award winner Ashanti will sing the national anthem, while Kelly Clarkson will perform at halftime. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the plays.

Sunday 1 p.m.

Game                                   % of the U.S.              Announcers

Raiders at Chiefs                   28%                              Ian Eagle/Solomon Wilcots

Bills at Jaguars                       24%                             Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon

Texans at Browns                  24%                             Gus Johnson/Steve Tasker

Titans at Bengals                    14%                             Bill Macatee/Steve Beuerlein

Sunday 4 p.m.

Broncos at Bears                  68%                              Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf

Ravens at Chargers               30%                              Dick Enberg/Randy Cross

Fox gets the single-header this weekend, not counting the Thanksgiving Day game featuring the Packers at the Lions, broadcast nationally with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck at 12:30 on Thursday.

Sunday 1 p.m.

NFL on Fox Week 12 Singleheader (Click image to view.)

Game                                    % of the U.S.                Announcers

Vikings at Giants                    56%                               Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnson/Tony Siragusa

Redskins at Bucs                    15%                               Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan

Saints at Panthers                   8%                                 Dick Stockton/Brian Baldinger

Seahawks at Rams                 6%                                 Matt Vasgersian/JC Pearson

Sunday 4 p.m.

49ers at Cardinals                  14%                                Ron Pitts/Tony Boselli

NFL Network
With Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth calling their first game of the season as the Colts visit the Falcons, local over-the-air simulcasts will be seen on NBC affiliate WTHG-TV in Indianapolis and MyNet station WATL-TV in Atlanta.

“Sunday Night Football” once again places the Patriots on a national stage as they try to take down the Eagles and continue an undefeated season.

The Patriots come off a blowout of the Bills last week on “SNF,” and the early line on the game suggests similar expectations here.

“Having watched New England on Sunday night and at the level at which they're playing, I think you’re getting one of those rare instances in sports where one team in functioning at a level that you just don’t see,” said “Sunday Night Football” producer Fred Gaudelli. “Philadelphia is obviously a more experienced team and probably at this point a better team than Buffalo is right now, so we’re hoping that the game can remain somewhat competitive. But if it doesn’t, you do have the incredible attraction of New England, especially offensively, and the way that they’re playing right now, it should be quite an entertaining night.”

The network will make the most of a Steelers team taking on the hapless Dolphins on Monday night and may pull some extra onlookers waiting for the chance to see Ricky Williams back with the team following his suspension.
The game telecast and Monday Night Countdown will highlight new music from Seal as part of “Monday Night Musicians.”

Week 11 NFL Broadcast Preview

November 15, 2007 4:12 PM

Fox, coming off a season-high 12.3/25 with 19.5 million viewers from Week 10’s double-header, returns with a double-header this week, featuring the Panthers/Packers and the Cowboys/Redskins.

Fox was aided last week by not only the Dallas/Giants game, which scored as the network’s highest rating for any program in any daypart since the “American Idol” finale in May, but also by shifting away from a Packers/Vikings blowout to the tight Eagles/Redskins match in the early game. Ratings jumped from a 7.4 to an 8.0 because of the move.

NFL ratings on Fox now are tied with the network’s best scores since 2000.

This week we see Fox surprisingly giving the Panthers/Packers game national prominence in the early game, with 42% of the country on deck, while the Giants/Lions game comes in at 32%, both the Buccaneers/Falcons contest and the Saints/Texans game will be in 7% (sorry Asim), while 5% will see the Cardinals/Bengals.

PressBox Map
NFL on Fox Week 11 Regional (Click image to view.)

In the afternoon, the Cowboys face the Redskins in nearly three-quarters of the nation, with Bears/Seahawks at 13% and Rams/49ers in 6%.

PressBox Map
NFL on Fox Week 11 National (Click image and go to page 2 to view.)

Here are the announcing lineups…

NYG @ DET       Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa
CAR @ GB       Dick Stockton/Brian Baldinger
ARI @ CIN        Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan
TB @ ATL       Ron Pitts/Tony Boselli
NO @ HOU       Chris Rose/Terry Donahue

WAS @ DAL       Joe Buck/Troy Aikman
CHI @ SEA       Matt Vasgersian/J.C. Pearson
STL @ SF       Chris Myers/Rod Woodson

CBS suffered a hangover from the much-hyped Colts/Patriots game, falling to an 8.8/20 with its single-game broadcast. This week also will feature single-game coverage by the network, with the afternoon broadcast of the Steelers against the Jets airing in 32% of the country at 4:05 p.m. Among the early games, the Chiefs/Colts event will take the lead in 25% of households, followed by Chargers/Jaguars in 19%, Raiders/Vikings in 12%, Browns/Ravens in mostly local markets with 7% and Dolphins/Eagles in 5%.

Here are the announcing teams:

CLE @ BAL       Ian Eagle/Solomon Wilcots
KC @ IND       Gus Johnson/Steve Tasker
OAK @ MIN       Dick Enberg/Randy Cross
MIA @ PHI       Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
SD @ JAX       Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf

PIT @ NYJ       Jim Nantz/Phil Simms

“Sunday Night Football” on NBC saw last week’s game draw a 10.8/18, up over the network’s season average.

This week’s game will showcase this year’s big draw, the New England Patriots, against AFC East rival the Buffalo Bills in the first of two straight “SNF” appearances by the team.

This is the 95th regular-season meeting between the franchises, with the Patriots holding a 52-40-1 edge in the series, including wins in eight straight and 13 of the last 14 games.

Already broadcasters are looking at the Patriots as having a shot to run the table and go undefeated. The team is currently the 23rd in NFL history to start a season 9-0. Seventeen teams have gone 10-0, 11 went 11-0, five hit 12-0, four went 13-0 and only the Dolphins have finished the regular season 14-0.

“I think someone is going to beat the Patriots,” said NBC’s John Madden. “The decision is going to come at the end of the season when they clinched the playoffs and they clinched home field and everyone tends to rest their players. That's going to be a dilemma for them. Do you go for the all-time record or do you go for the championship? In my mind, you always go for the championship.”

The channel earned a 5.9/9 for the Seahawks blowout of the 49ers. This week will see the Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos in a likely more interesting game. One of the highlights leading up to the game will be from “Soundtracks,” which will cover the best audio between the Redskins and Cowboys in one of the game’s biggest rivalries.

NFL Network Could Make History With Upcoming Games

November 14, 2007 2:16 PM

With two behemoth games already completed this season in the NFL in New England-Dallas and New England-Indianapolis, the league’s own network is poised to showcase two more.

The NFL Network, which starts its second season of regular-season NFL games on Thanksgiving, is already poised for potentially giant matchups with more than half the NFL season completed. Those games are the Nov. 29 game between Green Bay and Dallas, two teams vying to control the NFC, and the season finale where the New York Giants, likely fighting for a wild-card berth, will face a potentially undefeated New England Patriots.

“We’re excited by the schedule and we’ve got a chance to broadcast something historic,” said Charles Coplin, NFL Network VP of programming. “Nobody has gone undefeated for 35 years, but there are a lot of things that people are forgetting about the game, in that this could be a pivotal game for the Giants as well as they could be fighting for a spot in the playoffs.

“As for the Packers-Cowboys game, you are talking about the two best teams in the NFC,” he continued. “Even our other games bring key elements to the screen, whether it’s two teams scratching it out for the post-season, like the Redskins and Bears, or marquee players getting their time on national television. These are all key for us.”

Last season, while facing distribution problems with major cable outlets such as Comcast, the first live game telecast on the NFL Network, Chiefs-Broncos on Thursday night, posted a 6.8 cable Nielsen rating and was seen in 1.8 million households by 4.16 million viewers.

While federal and state authorities look into ways to settle the dispute between the two sides, the NFL Network is virtually sold out of advertising packages for its programming lineup and now is taking only scatter-market orders.

With the second season set to take launch on Thanksgiving with a game between the Colts and the Falcons, Mr. Coplin acknowledged that the network had to learn some things the hard way during its freshman year broadcasting the sport.

“If you talk to any network that covers a sport for the first time, you learn lessons,” he said. “But we were successful in assembling a crew for the first time, and Bryant Gumbel had never done play-by-play before. But with a year under our belt, we learned a lot of lessons, and we are being more creative in our approach to the games. It is a challenge for us to come on in the middle of the year, but we distinguish ourselves by what we do.”

He also said the network will continue its aggressive plans heading to the Super Bowl, noting, “Everything that moves in Arizona, we’ll be covering, from the lifestyles of the players, both past and present, as well as all the entertainment and atmosphere. We’ll be aggressive.”

Last year, the network offered more than 100 hours of Super Bowl XLI coverage.

NFL Week 10 Broadcast Preview

November 8, 2007 3:25 PM

In the wake of the aftermath of the much-hyped Patriots/Colts game last week, which snared a 20.1 rating/36 share, networks return to earth again this week for week 10 of the NFL season.

The network is poised to capitalize on Green Bay’s hot run this season and the Vikings breakout star Peterson and has slated the game to run in 69% of the country with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck behind the microphone. The Eagles at Redskins game took next priority in 11% of the country, followed by Falcons/Panthers in 8%, and Rams/Saints in 7%.

In late games, the Cowboys/Giants game takes prominence for 81% of the Fox affiliates, with the Lions/Cardinals on 6%, and Bears/Raiders on 1%.

Announcers will be:
1:05 p.m.
ATL@CAR       Chris Rose/Terry Donahue
MIN@GB        Dick Stockton/Brian Baldinger
StL@NO        Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan
PHI@WAS        Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa

PressBox Map
NFL on Fox Week 10 Regional (Click image to view.)

4:15 p.m.
DAL@NYG       Joe Buck/Troy Aikman
DET@ARI       Ron Pitts/Tony Boselli
CHI@OAK       Matt Vasgersian/JC Pearson

NFL on Fox Week 10 National
NFL on Fox Week 10 National (Click image to view.)

Meanwhile this week at CBS, with a single broadcast, national games will be split relatively evenly with the Denver Broncos at the KC Chiefs prominent in the West Coast, airing in 29% of the country while the Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers matchup will air through much of the mid-West at 30% of the nation at 1pm. In addition, the jaguars/Titans game will run on 19% of affiliates and the Bills/Dolphins game will be limited to local stations with 5%.

The sole afternoon game on CBS will feature the Bengals at the Ravens with 17% of the country able to watch.

Here is the announcing lineup…

1:05 p.m.
DEN @ KC       Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf
JAX @ TEN       Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
BUF @ MIA       Gus Johnson/ Steve Tasker
CLE @ PIT       Jim Nantz/Phil Simms

4:05 p.m.
CIN @ BAL       Dick Enberg/Randy Cross

Here are the planned NFL highlights to look for this weekend:

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” will feature a match of NFC West rivals this week when the San Francisco 49ers travel to the Pacific Northwest to face Matt Hasselbeck and the division-leading Seattle Seahawks.

“The Price is Right” host Drew Carey is expected to make a third quarter booth appearance. In addition, Rainn Wilson of “The Office” will appear in a special MNF opening tease, which will give viewers a unique tour of the Emerald City.

“Monday Night Countdown” will feature members of the Seahawks secondary—Deon Grant, Marcus Trufant, Brian Russell, Kelly Jennings and Jordan Babineaux—competing in a fish-tossing competition at Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. A year ago, the Seahawks receivers took part in the first event of this kind on the show with Deion Branch claiming the title.

In addition, the MNF game telecast and “Countdown” will highlight new music from Alicia Keys with singles “No One” and “Go Ahead” as well as The Killers’ Shadowplay as part of “Monday Night Musicians.

Joe Buck Discusses Torre, Late Night and Jack

November 6, 2007 2:57 PM

Joe Torre looks good in Dodger blue, at least according to the networks.

The warm welcome for the new manager of Los Angeles’ National League team is coming not just from Dodger fans but from the baseball networks’ executives desperately hoping the storied team will regain its prominence. The Los Angeles Dodgers are already a regular staple on national programming lineups, due to the longtime popularity of the team as well as the market size of Los Angeles. However, Mr. Torre is poised to give the Dodgers even more national games next season, according to executives from the networks broadcasting baseball, who would love to strengthen the East Coast vs. West Coast battles.

At the very least, it’s a distraction from Kobe for L.A. sports talk radio.

Today on Pressbox, I had the chance to talk with longtime Fox sportscaster Joe Buck about the effect Torre had on the Dodgers as well as the Yankees, Buck’s potential late-night show and the legacy of his father, legendary sportscaster Jack Buck.

Mr. Buck, a graduate of Indiana, was first hired by Fox in 1994, making him the youngest person ever to announce a national slate of NFL games on TV. Two years later, he was tapped as the lead play-by-play voice for the network’s Major League Baseball games and called his first World Series at the age of 30. Arguably his most famous moment came when he called Mark McGwire’s record-breaking home run in 1998.

TVWeek: What do you make of the big off-season changes we’ve already seen in baseball?
Mr. Buck: First and foremost, it was a mistake by the Yankees to get rid of Torre. Any baseball fan could make pitching changes, but more than anything else these days it takes more than what you do in the clubhouse. The job is about how you shield your players at times from the media, and how you let them go about doing their jobs. Torre is a master at that and was the best fit for that Yankee team.

I honestly don’t know if it’s as important to do that with the Dodgers as it is in New York, but Torre is responsible for creating a team atmosphere in that clubhouse. He picks and chooses his times to lay into the ball club, and is a very good judge on when to step on the gas and when to tap the brakes. I’d even say he’s the best defender in the major leagues.

The Yankees did get a worthy replacement in Joe Girardi, but he is a very different person … meticulous. He is very detail-oriented and a little tighter wound than Torre. The tighter you are wound, the more likely you are to snap, and that’s [Girardi’s] biggest challenge in New York now, separating the games and decisions from everything else that goes on. I wish them both the best.

As for [Alex Rodriguez], it never really panned out for him in New York and he is better off going somewhere else. Although his timing was ridiculous, but he still never seemed like a great fit there, despite the numbers. He would always be in the shadow of [Derek] Jeter.

TVWeek: You were recently tagged as someone Fox is looking to for a late-night show. It’s been said that sports is about drama while late night is about comedy. How do you feel about the comedy aspect and marry that with your sports career?

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Mr. Buck: The late-night show is really in limbo at this point. The pilot is finished and I’m really proud of it, but nobody at Fox has seen it yet, and we haven’t started negotiating. So I really don’t know when anything will get done.
However, we all agree that whether it works for Fox or somewhere else, the show will have no bearing on my sports situation with them. I couldn’t work at a better place, and I am treating the show deal as a separate entity.
With that said, the show is all comedy, and that’s what has me so excited about it. I’ll be exercising different muscles, which I enjoy doing.
The pilot featured a skit with Paul Rudd and David Spade. In addition, I did “man on the street” stuff where I check out what people are listening to on their iPods.
I am deathly afraid of overexposure, but this was an opportunity for me to try something different and find new audiences, and I love that type of challenge.

TVWeek: You are about to call your second Super Bowl. What did you take from your first experience?
Mr. Buck: It’s better the second time around. I know what to expect. Fortunately, I’m not part of the two-week buildup; once they kick off, then I do my job.
It’s really no different from the game I’m doing this Sunday, because that’s what I’m expected to do. But the experience will be better this time because I can look at my notes from the first one and remind myself to relax and calm down, which will be easier this time around.

TVWeek: Do you have a favorite stadium, baseball and football, to call games?
Mr. Buck: My criteria are different from most. As far as football, I want low seats where I don’t have to struggle to see the players’ numbers and close to a bathroom. Chicago has that.
During the Super Bowl we did in Jacksonville, as soon as we got to the booth, Cris Collinsworth turned white as a ghost and started to sweat because he couldn’t see the numbers. We literally went from the booth and bought glasses the day of the Super Bowl.
As far as baseball is concerned, you can’t beat Yankee Stadium; it has the best view of any in baseball and is big so we don’t feel cramped.

TVWeek: Few people have been able to influence the sport of baseball as much as your father, Jack. What did you take from him that you bring to your work ethic?
Mr. Buck: One thing I’ve always enjoyed is that he may have been best known for the Kirk Gibson home run, while I called McGwire’s.
But my father always made certain to be a difference in his community. When someone needed an MC or to raise money, they called him and he never said no. I try to take that with me.
He and I were best buddies, and he hung the moon for me. It’s great that people continue to remember what he brought to the sport and the dent he made on a national level.

NFL Week 9 Broadcast Preview

November 1, 2007 12:25 PM

As the last battle of the unbeatens in the NFL this season, the Indianapolis Colts/New England Patriots matchup on Sunday is slated to dominate the airwaves with CBS, ESPN and the NFL Network all devoting coverage to the event.

CBS, which gets the doubleheader back this week, has slated the game to air in 93 % of the country with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action at 4:15 p.m.

“These are the kind of games that come along every once in a while during the regular season schedule that you just pray they are going to be on your network,” said Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports “We got a good break with the two teams being undefeated going in and I can’t remember anyone at CBS Sports whether it is the announcers or the pregame crew or the producers and directors being more pumped up for a regular season football game. I thought we were pretty excited about the Cowboys Patriots game, but this exceeds even that. So if Football Gods are willing and we get a good game, I think we are set for a pretty good Sunday afternoon.”

ESPN explore the rivals as part of “Sunday NFL Countdown.” Legendary NFL coach and Monday Night Countdown analyst Bill Parcells—who led the Patriots to the team’s second Super Bowl appearance in 1997— will make a special appearance on Sunday alongside Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson, Tom Jackson, Emmitt Smith and NFL insider Chris Mortensen.

Some of the elements fans can expect include:
“TJ’s Tale of the Tape” - Jackson will break down the match-up position-by-position to see who has the edge;
Peyton Manning & Tom Brady—Greg Garber feature will include interviews with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Warren Moon, Jim Kelly, Steve Young and others to break down the play of and choose between Manning and Brady.

Demo Field: “The Slot” - Parcells will lead a demo field segment to show how the Pats and Colts offenses effectively use the receiver in the "slot" position; Parcells will also outline what both teams need to do defensively to counteract it.

Soundtracks: 2006 AFC Championship Game - “This NFL Films-produced segment will provide sight and sounds from the intense playoff battle last season when Manning earned his first Super Bowl appearance, rallying the Colts from a 21-3 deficit against the Patriots.”

In addition, Sal Paolantonio and Ed Werder will provide live updates on the teams from Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, the NFL Network will continue the channel’s record-breaking 36.5 hours of coverage of the game with Patriots and Colts specific programming, the most ever for a non-Super Bowl matchup.

“This is what separates NFL Network,” said Charles Coplin, NFL vice president of programming. “We have the ability to adjust and provide our viewers the most topical information on the NFL while using historical games and content to delve deeper into why a match-up between the Colts and Patriots has taken on such Super Bowl-like proportions.”

The 36.5 hours of coverage is in addition to game previews, analysis and interviews on “NFL Total Access,” “Point After,” “Put Up Your Dukes,” and “Playbook”. The week culminates with a 13-hour marathon of encores of past Patriots-Colts match-up coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 3.

Just in case anyone forgot there are other games. In the first half of its doubleheader, CBS will broadast the Cincinatti Bengals/Buffalo Bill game in 14 percent of the country with Solomon Wilcots and Ian Eagle behind the microphone, The Denver Broncos/Detroit Lions game will Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon calling the action for 12 percent. The San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings contest will take national priority during the first half 42 percent of the country plugged in to see Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf handling the game. The jaguars/Saints matchup finds Dick Enberg and Randy Cross in the booth for 20 percent of the nation.

The other 4 p.m. game on CBS finds Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker broadcasting to 6 percent of the country.


PressBox Map
NFL on Fox Week 9 Singleheader (Click image to view.)
Fox rolls out with Green Bay Packers/Kansas City Chiefs as its primary game in 40 percent of the country as Joe Buck returns to the broadcast booth from his baseball duties to join Troy Aikman. The next broadest coverage will be the Washington Redskins at the New York Jets in 18 percent of the country as Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnson, and Tony Siragusa call the action. Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger are set for the Carolina Panthers/Tennessee Titans game in 11 percent of the country and Matt Vasgersian and J.C. Pearson take the mikes for the 49ers/Falcons game in 8 percent of the country. Ron Pitts and Tony Boselli will handle duties for The Arizona Cardinals/Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in 6 percent. Fox’s sole afternoon game will see the Seattle Seahawks take on the Cleveland Browns and broadcast in 16 percent of the country. Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan will call the plays.

Tony Romo and the NFC East leading Cowboys (6-1) head to Philadelphia for the 94th meeting between the NFC East rivals for “NBC Sunday Night Football.”
“He is just starting to earn his way into a ranking,” said John Madden of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. “When a guy has not played one full year you can't put him in with guys like Tom Brady, who has won three Super Bowls, and Peyton Manning and Brett Favre and the things that they've accomplished. Now he may go up there and work his way into that category, and I think he will work his way into the top category, but I think putting him there right now would be premature.”

ESPN“Monday Night Football” will feature AFC North division Rivals Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers with the Steelers sporting their 75th Anniversary throwback uniforms for the event. ESPN will have interviews with some of the Steeler greats participating in the festivities that night.
The game telecast and countdown will highlight new music from hip-hop artist Chris Brown (featuring singles “Wall to Wall” and “Kiss Kiss”) off his new album “Exclusive” as part of “Monday Night Musicians.”