Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Football Blogging is BACK!!! 

Our readership has waned since our Big January, a month dominated on this blog by NFL playoff-related posts. In an attempt to get back some of that readership, the NFL has decided to announce its new TV deals today. I thank the NFL for said announcement.

The big news is that, starting in 2006, Monday Night Football will move to ESPN, and Sunday Night Football will move to NBC. As King Kaufman points out:
the increase over the previous deal is $1.135 billion a year, 44 percent, with three-quarters of that gain -- $850 million of it -- coming from ESPN and DirectTV, both of which provide the league with far fewer eyeballs than the alternatives, broadcast networks and a non-exclusive satellite deal.

What does that mean? It means that the big money comes not from bigger audiences, but from smaller, more carefully selected ones. The NFL still has an eight-game package of Thursday- and Saturday-night games unsold. It will end up either on a new all-sports network or on the league's own cable NFL Network.
I'm assuming DirecTV will up the price on Sunday Ticket, but, well, my demand curve for that particular product is extremely inelastic (just ask Stringer Bell), so I don't really care.

However, there are two things surrounding all this that I do care about. One, as noted, the NFL is getting $1.135 billion more a year. That's great. However, due to the salary cap and general pathetic state of the NFL player's union, most of this money will be funneled to the owners' pockets, a demographic already getting fat by extorting massive wealth transfers from the general public in order to finance stadiums. And, of course, NFL players will still be grossly underpaid and fans will still be grossly overcharged for tickets. See King Kaufman from yesterday to learn a bit about player contracts. Now, this whole NFL financing arrangement may be the area, of all issues concerning the public weal, that Guthrie and I disagree the most. So, don't be surprised if he takes me to task over this (if, indeed, he still exists).

Secondly, and, actually, more importantly with respect to my everyday enjoyment of the NFL product, these new deals clearly have announcing-team implications. Most people who know me know that my favorite announcing team is the current ESPN team of Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul McGuire. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me, but, for my money, if you want to talk about a good announcing team, if you want to talk about guys who can analyze football...well, you get the idea. I can only hope that these three will jump to NBC in order to keep broadcasting the Sunday night games. This may not be so easy a deal to strike, however, because Mike Patrick must make a good portion of his income doing college basketball for ESPN. And Joe Theismann does a lot of other NFL-related commentary and features for ESPN, too. So, I guess we'll see what happens on that front. As for the current MNF team, Michaels and Madden, I imagine they will simply move to Disney brother ESPN and still to MNF. But that's not a given.

I guess so long as Brian Baldinger doesn't start doing nationally televised games I'll deal with whatever happens.

So, draft predictions, anyone?
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