SBD/October 17, 2013/Media

Pundits Take To Sports-Talk TV Shows To Debate Additional Thursday NFL Package

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Even though the NFL was quick to deny a report that it was considering selling another package of Thursday night games to a different outlet than NFL Network, the mere idea produced a variety of responses yesterday. ESPN's Jemele Hill said, "This is a great idea to have another Thursday night doubleheader. Football is a national obsession in this country. There can never be too much NFL" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 10/16). But the N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said more Thursday night games will "oversaturate the product." SNY's Marc Malusis: "You're taking away from what was the special nature of Sunday football watching" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/16).

THE HEIGHT OF GREED: ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "This is what a greedy, gluttonous beast that can't be stopped would do." He added, "If you're the NFL and you want to control TV programming, this would be a monster to have more Thursday night football. You could buy primetime slots. It's a huge night for television elsewhere. If you can go to another cable provider and get football, of course they're going to do this. And of course they don’t care about the safety of the players" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/16). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "You know the reason they're doing this is because the owners have been unhappy that they're not getting $600 million from an outside network. They're just taking their money out of one pocket and putting it into another. So they're going to add more games ... and produce more income for themselves. It's not about player safety" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/16). The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom: "The NFL is all about greed. ... The only time the NFL cares about player safety is when it's a quarterback or when Congress tells the NFL to worry about it. They're frauds" ("Deal With It!," CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 10/16). CBSSN's Jim Rome said, "Everybody loves those games, except the 22 guys that are on the field. Better yet, give me some doubleheaders because all my rowdy friends are coming over Thursday night and they’re the folks that the NFL cares most about, not its players” ("Rome," CBSSN, 10/16).

HOW DOES THIS HELP PLAYER SAFETY? SNY's Adam Schein said adding more games on Thursday is the "dumbest idea in the history of ideas." He said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is "speaking out of both sides of his mouth" in terms of player safety ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 10/16). The Orange County Register’s Dan Woike: “This is a league that has always been hypocritical when it comes to player safety. They can cry foul and say they're doing all these things about injuries and stuff like that. But then you go to the website and you see the photos of the big hits. They can say they care about player safety, but what they really care about is making more money" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 10/16).

NOT BUYING WHAT LEAGUE IS SELLING
: Fox Business' Dennis Kneale said despite the denial, "something clearly is going on here." A deal with YouTube for Thursday night games would make it "ready for primetime as a major TV service" and a candidate to acquire the "Sunday NFL Ticket" package. It would be akin to what the NFL did "for the fledgling Fox broadcasting network over two decades ago." But Kneale added, "Then again it may just be an NFL juke move to scare DirecTV into a higher price" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 10/16). SI’s Jim Trotter said, “The only reason why I’m skeptical, even when the league says it’s not considering this, is that Roger Goodell has already told the owners that revenues are going to increase above $20 billion by the end of the next decade." Trotter: "That money has to come from somewhere, and usually the place it comes from is TV” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 10/16).

TECHNICAL ISSUES: ESPN's Bomani Jones, on other possible competitors entering the NFL media rights landscape, said, "All the TV companies better get their weight up because if Google and Apple are talking about getting involved, Apple's got enough cash -- cash! -- to buy every franchise in American sports" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/16). But FS1's Trevor Pryce said, "I know Netflix and Google are the TV of the future. ... But pro football and sports in general is a one-time thing. Once it comes on, nobody watches that game again” (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 10/16).
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