Constant relevance requires constant reinvention and re-evaluation.
Two big reasons the NFL is, and will continue to be the number one spectator sport in this country.
This past week, the league announced new television deals that will take effect for the 2006 season. CBS and Fox will continue their Sunday afternoon matinees, but the channel changing will begin on Sunday nights.
NBC takes over the franchise started by ESPN a few years back. It was a way for the NFL to own the entire day and night each week, and the teams love it. Another chance to be the only game on at that hour. More exposure, more excitement, and a sense of achievement, because they don't give that spot to scrub teams.
It's a recognition that was born on Monday night's some 35 years ago. ABC brought the NFL to prime time, and it quickly became one of TV's most watched programs. But it's relevance and interest has waned in recent years. When it began, there were very few ways you could watch live football. Now, in the days of satellite TV and cable on demand, most every fan can watch most every play of their favorite team most every week. Monday Night Football
isn't the novelty it was in the 1970's... and the numbers prove it.
So, to stoke two fires, and introduce another network into their bountiful bidding process....the NFL switched Sunday nights to NBC (with a price tag of $600 million) and moved Monday nights within the Disney family to ESPN (at a more stately $1.1 billion). It's a perfect move by commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Since weeknights are more geared towards demographics anyway, Monday Night Football is a perfect fit for the M 18-34 audience that is addicted to ESPN already. And the Peacock network was only too happy to jump back into sports television relevance... the kind of feeling they only seem to get every other year when the Olympics bring events into our home we spend four years ignoring otherwise.
Just another reason why the NFL continues to be the best sport, and the best sports business in this country. Uncle Buster writes Sportztyme every Thursday, for far less than the 1.1 billion the NFL gets annually from ESPN.