NFL Network is definitely my favorite channel on television.
Chief anchor Rich Eisen is the best studio host in professional sports not named Ernie Johnson and he sets the tone for football coverage that is better for die hards than ESPN’s by leaps and bounds.
Mike Mayock is the the NFL’s best color commentator and there isn’t a close second. Utilizing the all-22 camera angle immediately after the whistle, Mayock breaks down plays with such precise clarity that it makes you wonder why this method is the exception and not the norm. We could only WISH that, say, Jon Gruden felt the same responsibility to educate viewers.
Football 24/7/365 is a godsend that was not even dreamed about when our parents were our age and I almost feel entitled complaining about it but the fact is that it could be SO MUCH BETTER!
1. Vary the offseason highlights loops.
This offseason, EVERY single commercial break starts with the “best kickoff returns for touchdowns” from last year. Last offseason, it was “best touchdown receptions”.
How hard would it be to have a loop of, like, five of these–best special teams returns, best defensive returns, best rushes, best throws, and best game-winning touchdowns, for example–so it wasn’t the SAME HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE for every commercial break? You’d have to think a more diverse package of these is something that one guy at NFL Network could put together in about an hour.
2. Show more old games
The NFL Films library includes every game from the Super Bowl era. Why doesn’t NFL Network show more of them (there’s a rotation of about 10-15 games that are regularly shown) and why doesn’t it show old games more often?
I would rather watch a Week 11 Cowboys-49ers matchup from 1994 and hundreds of games like it 1,000 times before a re-run of 2010′s Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL, The 10 Most Controversial Calls in NFL History (controversial meaning bad), or the 2009 Bengals on Hard Knocks.
NBA TV does a great job at broadcasting old school games. I can be flipping through the channels and a 1993 Suns game where Charles Barkley goes OFF or Bird-Dominique duel will be on and suck me in. NO ONE DENIES THIS.
3. Keep the Red Zone Channel on a constant loop all year.
Do they really think we WOULDN’T watch a Red Zone channel that cycled through old NFL Sundays? Even if that’d be the case, how would this be any different than its being DARK all year?
Maybe they’re just scared that this would get better ratings than an NFL AM debate about whether Vince Young or Tyler Thigpen should win the Bills’ second-string quarterback job?
4. More Kurt Warner. No Warren Sapp.
Kurt Warner is confidently reserved and teaches the viewer about the nuances of football.
5. More Tebow.
Obviously joking. Err on the side of less.
It’s an unproven fact that half of NFL Network’s audience comes from people angrily changing the channel every time ESPN shows Tebow running shirtless through the rain.
6. Hire better ad sales people
7. Broadcast the Doug Farrar/Greg Cosell podcast with visual aid.
If I could only choose one piece of football-related content to consume from TV, print, radio, podcasts, or web sites, it would be this podcast on Yahoo. Nobody in the world breaks down film better than Greg Cosell and his dialogue with Doug Farrar is fascinating even though you can’t see the plays and match-ups he is breaking down.
Cosell may not be able to do this because of his role as executive producer of ESPN’s NFL Matchup but you have to wonder how prohibitive his contract could be when that show runs at 3:00 AM ET and he’s not even on the air.
If this podcast was broadcast on NFL Network with film clips that show the plays and trends that Cosell and Farrar reference, it would be far and away the best football show on TV.
Think we won’t watch?
Run it at 2 AM on Thursdays and I guarantee it does better than the night’s fifth re-run of Total Access.