SBD/Issue 237/Sports Media

NBC Makes Changes To "FNIA," Including Taking Costas On-Site

Costas Will Host "FNIA" From Site Of
Game, Not NBC's Studio This Season
NBC yesterday announced that Bob Costas will host "Football Night In America" from the site of the "Sunday Night Football" game this season rather than NBC's studios. The move is part of an effort to put more emphasis on the "SNF" matchup during "FNIA." Costas will join the "SNF" broadcast duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth in the booth during his hosting duties. The "FNIA" studio roster will consist of Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Peter King. NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol on a conference call said the net’s plan is to provide Costas, Michaels and Collinsworth with a forum to discuss the NFL, the “big news of the week, the news of the day and if there are other major developments in the world of sports, I stress major, they’ll get into that.” Ebersol said NFL highlights will “still come from New York” and will be a “large focus of the show.” Ebersol: “There will be just as many highlights as there have been in the past. … We fought very hard to get the right to be the main highlight distributor from the league and they will still be more than half of the show.” He added, “A pregame show would be something where you spend an inordinate amount of time making up what you think is going to happen in the game. None of these guys are ‘hypemasters’ and if I tried to get them to hype they would all laugh me out of the building. I think you’ll find that between the newsmakers’ segments, the live interviews and the expertise that these guys bring to the dance, that this won’t be a comedy show of guesswork” (THE DAILY).

SUNDAY NIGHT HEAT: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes the latest changes to “FNIA” come as NBC has “yet to deliver a treasure trove of ratings on TV’s most-watched night,” partly because the net “can’t air NFL highlights until 7:15 and goes against the end of games on CBS or Fox” (USA TODAY, 8/27). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote this “seems to be an effort to put more sparkle into that night’s game.” Ebersol pointed out that highlights will be an important part of “FNIA,” and he “would be wise to make sure that formula is followed.” That is “what football fans want,” and “failure to provide that will drive viewers to ESPN” (TIMESUNION.com, 8/26).

SOLID MOVE: FANGSBITES.com's Kenny Fang wrote, "This might actually work. There were too many cooks stirring the pot in the studio last year and having Bob talking with Collinsworth and Michaels at the beginning, then not being seen until the end will make a better show in my opinion. I'll be honest, my high hopes for FNIA were dashed in the first season and it's made me miss ESPN's NFL Primetime. I think having Dungy and Harrison will make for some interesting commentary. I hope so" (FANGSBITES.com, 8/26). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Brian Powell wrote while he has "always been critical of NBC's decisions" when it comes to "FNIA," this year they "seem to be close to getting it right." Powell: "In fact, you could argue that they only really need Costas, Collinsworth and Michaels, manning the highlights" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 8/26).

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