21 July 2015
Fox to expand NFL pregame coverage this season
Now, Fox is beginning their pregame coverage even earlier this upcoming season at 11 a.m. Eastern by moving Fox NFL Kickoff from Fox Sports 1 to the big network.
The great John Ourand broke the story and found that the rationale for this decision is to provide a better lead-in for Fox NFL Sunday. Fox affiliates vary in terms of what they air leading into Fox NFL Sunday given that they control that time but many affiliates air either Fox News Sunday or infomercials before it. Ourand also says that the affiliates seem to welcome this move given that NFL programming rates extremely well, and Fox NFL Sunday has been the most-watched pregame show since it debuted.
It is important to note that Fox NFL Kickoff has never been a huge ratings draw on FS1 but ratings certainly will increase over the shift from cable to network because after all, people cannot get enough NFL programming right now.
However, what will be interesting to see how the two will be delineated from being a two-hour edition of Fox NFL Sunday. You will see the analysts and personalities from the big show, like Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and Michael Strahan appear more often going forward than they have in the past, but you will also see them keep segments where the Fox announcer crews preview the games that they are calling (a la the much-missed Fox Watch segments).
The talent for the show is a little in flux. Last year saw the show hosted by Joel Klatt along with analysts Randy Moss, Donovan McNabb and Dave Wannstedt. Moss, who has been a revelation as an analyst since joining the network at launch, is expected to return. However, the status of Klatt is in question given that he is becoming the new lead college football analyst and McNabb is under indefinite suspension due to getting a DUI. One new face of the show is likely to be Colin Cowherd, whose impending departure from ESPN was announced last week.
UPDATE: Fox NFL Kickoff will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and she will be joined by Champ Bailey, Colin Cowherd, Randy Moss and Dave Wannstedt.
If Fox NFL Kickoff does well in the ratings and helps boost Fox NFL Sunday even further, would CBS make a similar move? They do have a four-hour pregame show aptly titled That Other Pregame Show on CBS Sports Network but they also have more network commitments to work with on Sunday mornings than Fox has with Sunday Morning at 9 and Face the Nation at 10:30 (FTN is an hour-long program but only airs the full hour continuously in about half the country).