With the Thursday Night Football franchise being added to CBS' lineup, some wonder if the broadcast network's show will lead to NFL fatigue. But during a panel for NBC’s Sunday Night Football at the TCA summer press tour Monday, announcers and network heads didn’t think fan saturation was an issue.
“The thing about Thursday night that’s important to remember is Thursday Night Football has been on the air for a lot of seasons,” said on-air host Al Michaels. “It’s the case in every sport. How much is too much? Right now it’s not too much.”
Michaels was joined on stage for the discussion by Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group; SNF coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli; and on-air talent Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
“It doesn’t materially change the amount of exposure,” said Lazarus. “Adding another night down the line I think is a fair question.”
But the network does expect a ratings boost this season since it's the net’s turn to air the Super Bowl.
“To know that we’re all working toward what’s going to be a fantastic finale to the season is it just makes every contest along the way that much more fine,” said Tafoya.
Other highlights from the panel included:
—Collinsworth on the responsibility of broadcasters to report on concussions: “I think that no matter what the safety rules may be, that the NFL hands down, the referees try to enforce and the players try to enact on the field, it is our job in the media and your job as well to make sure that this is real, that this isn’t lip service, that there are changes that had to be made to the game of football.”
—Tafoya addressed the news that Pam Oliver will move to Fox’s No. 2 sideline broadcast team with Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch while Erin Andrews will take over Oliver’s spot on the No. 1 team with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. “I think every broadcast does what’s best for its show and so that is their decision about what they believe is best for their show. But I have nothing but goodwill toward Pam.”
—Lazarus responded to questions about NBC Sports Network and how it incorporates the NFL into its programming. The exec said they do have shows about fantasy football and cover NFL news in its broadcasts. He added that the company will use SNF to promote NBCSN.
—“I also don’t think you can underestimate the role of fantasy football,” said Lazarus of the sport’s continued popularity.
—After watching a teaser clip of Carrie Underwood’s revamped SNF opening sequence, Collinsworth commented: “Every time I come in here for this and I hear Carrie sing the song, I get that same burst of energy that I get in the booth right before we come on the air.” On July 25, a 2 1/2 minute trailer that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the opening will play in theaters across the country.