SBD/November 8, 2013/Media

ESPN2's "Fantasy Football Now" Stands Out Among Pregame Shows As Audience Grows

"Fantasy Football Now" is seen as heavy on information and light on shtick
ESPN2's "Fantasy Football Now" is "the best" NFL pregame show because it "fulfills its charter" each week, according to Richard Deitsch of THE MMQB. What is "particularly refreshing about 'FFN' is the absence of traditional pregame standards -- the over-the-top chuckling at everything a panelist opines to the awkward hawking of products or movie tie-ins." The show is "heavy on information and informed judgment and light on shtick." The show has averaged 476,000 viewers this year to date -- up 19% over '12 -- making it "the most-watched show on ESPN2 outside of college football coverage." It also has "huge social media engagement every Sunday -- something all sports networks are craving at the moment." The "FFN" full-time staff consists of hosts Robert Flores and Sara Walsh, analysts Matthew Berry and Tim Hasselbeck, and medical analyst Stephania Bell. Berry said, "We serve a very specific audience. It's a large, passionate audience but also a very specific one that looks at football differently than traditional pregame shows." ESPN Coordinating Producer Scott Clark, who oversees "FFN," said, "Everything is geared toward fantasy football and helping people with their lineups. We also try to be entertaining doing it. The questions we ask our reporters in the field are very different than the ones reporters are asked on 'Sunday NFL Countdown' or 'SportsCenter' because our questions are geared toward individual players." CBSSports.com fantasy analyst Dave Richard said, "I think fantasy football will continue to be on television because the audience demands it. The popularity of the game, the challenge of the game and the connection fans create between themselves and NFL players through the game isn't going anywhere" (MMQB.SI.com, 11/6).
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