Fallout from the NFL primetime changes

As we now have a day to absorb the implications of the moves the NFL made in its primetime packages, we realize that once again, a long time TV partner now finds itself on the outside looking in. In 1994, CBS was surprised by Fox in the bidding for the NFC package. In 1998, CBS returned to the NFL by winning the AFC and forced NBC out. Now in 2005, after 7 years of biding its time, NBC returned to the NFL broadcasting business by taking out ABC. When the packages are put to bid in 2011, don’t be surprised to see ABC find a way to get back to the NFL.

The NFL likes having the networks bid against each other. Having the NFL allows networks to promote their primetime programming. Not only that, the NFL brings young males to the TV screen in a way that no other sport does. While ABC cites losses from Monday Night Football, don’t think that it won’t miss the ratings that the game brought to its affiliates. Now, ABC will have to cope with the lost ratings.

During the period from 1994-1998, CBS floundered in the ratings and dropped to fourth place in the primetime ratings. When CBS brought the NFL back, the network rose to first place in both in the overall race and in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic.

Between 1998 to the present, NBC has fallen from a robust 1st place to third after CBS and ABC. With NBC now devoting its entire primetime lineup to the NFL on Sundays starting next year, the network will find a way to rise. With the NFL and the Olympics, NBC has two important sports properties to promote.

Fox which has been immune to losing major sports properties since getting into the sports business in 1994 had better be careful in the next bidding because it could be next.

Ok, enough of me, now time to get to the links.

We start with USA Today’s Michael Hiestand whose first major story as primary media writer for the paper is this week’s NFL changes. He has a good enterprise story looking into who will be the crew to broadcast the Monday Night games for ESPN, whether the Sunday night crew will go over or if Al Michaels and John Madden will move to cable. Plus, he explains the flexible schedule for SNF.

The Boston Globe’s Bill Griffith gets details of the deal from the chairman of the NFL TV committee, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and also provides highlights of both primetime packages.

Freelancer John Molori has his take on NBC’s re-entry into the NFL and he also writes about the ordeal baseball balladeer Terry Cashman had to endure on WEEI in Boston.

NBC News has finally written a story on the deal for the Peacock Network.

The online magazine Salon has a story on the new primetime packages. King Kaufman speculates that this could be the beginning of the end of the NFL on free TV. I really doubt that.

The New York Post has a story from Tim Arango and Andrew Marchand. This story cites “sources” as saying CBS is interesting in bringing back John Madden and placing him in a three man booth with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. That would very crowded verbiage.

Bob Raissman and Matt Marone of the New York Daily News combine for their version of the story.

Washington Post NFL Writer Mark Maske has more on the TV deal.

New York Times TV and Radio writer Richard Sandomir has a background story on ABC’s history of Monday Night Football and what this means for ESPN.

Newsday’s Steve Zipay also writes about ESPN taking over MNF next year. And Zipay wonders what will happen to Al Michaels and John Madden?

The LA Times’ Mike Penner writes on how more and more sports leagues are moving their flagship packages to cable. Meg James and Sam Farmer have a look at the financial end of the deal.

Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times is already lamenting the move of MNF to cable.

And I’ll give the last word on this subject to Houston Chronicle writer David Barron who has done a very good job on this story.

If you find you have to register to read any of these stories (it will certainly be the case for the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times) and you don’t want to give your personal information, my suggestion would be to click on this link to bugmenot.com and bypass the signup process.

Wednesday, we’ll try to find media stories about other topics, but if there are some major stories still to be written about NBC and ESPN on the NFL, I’ll link to them.