It’s a simple question with a complex answer. What makes a successful NFL game broadcast?
“I think a successful game broadcast is one where everyone is working in concert together to tell a story,” says CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz, the network’s lead NFL play-by-play voice since 2004. “It is an effort of about 250 strong for our crew, and everybody has an important part to play to make sure the story is told accurately. The art of it, when you boil it down, is storytelling, and not just anecdotal stuff. It’s about why a play did or did not work, or why a player or coach made that decision. It’s storytelling whether from a play-by-play man or analyst, or the producer having the right sequence of replays, or the director visually showing you what happened.”
The voices that bring you NFL football are an important part of your NFL experience. Last week this column brought you the 2013 NFL Studio Show Guide. Below, we’ll outline the key broadcast players in the first-ever The MMQB NFL Game Broadcast Guide:
1. Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Phil Simms (analyst).
2. Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) and Dan Dierdorf (analyst).
3. Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Dan Fouts (analyst).
4. Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Rich Gannon (analyst).
5. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Solomon Wilcots (analyst).
6. Bill Macatee (play-by-play) and Steve Tasker (analyst).
7. Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Steve Beuerlein (analyst).
• CBS has a new graphics package including new animations and insert graphics. “For the insert graphics we put an emphasis on toning down the architecture and making the fonts more easy to read for the viewer,” says CBS spokesperson Jen Sabatelle. “We’ve added more team colors to the graphics package so the viewer can easily associate a stat with a team.”
• Nothing changes with the broadcast teams. The lineup is the same as last year.
• Possible ratings trouble. A subpar Jets team in the nation’s biggest television mark could impact CBS’ overall viewership this year.
Bengals at Bears (Sept. 8, 1 p.m.); Broncos at Giants (Sept. 15, 4:25 p.m.); Texans at Ravens (Sept. 22, 1 p.m.); Colts at Niners (Sept. 22; 4:25 p.m.); Steelers at Vikings (Sept. 29, 1 p.m.); Patriots at Bengals (Oct. 6, 1 p.m.); Broncos at Cowboys (Oct. 6, 4:25 p.m.); Ravens at Steelers (Oct. 20, 4:25 p.m.); Steelers at Patriots (Nov. 3, 4:25 p.m.); Bengals at Ravens (Nov. 10, 1 p.m.); Broncos at Chargers (Nov. 10, 4:25 p.m.); Ravens at Bears (Nov. 17, 1 p.m.); Browns at Bengals (Nov. 17, 1 p.m.); Broncos at Chiefs (Dec. 1, 1 p.m.); Patriots at Texans (Dec. 1, 4:25 p.m.); Colts at Bengals (Dec. 8, 1 p.m.); Broncos at Texans (Dec. 22, 1 p.m.); Steelers at Packers (Dec. 22, 4:25 p.m.); Ravens at Bengals (Dec. 29, 1 p.m.).
The MMQB television schedule rating: No. 4 of the five networks.
“The zone read is the modern-day version of the quarterback keeper. In other words, fake right, keep left, and keep the ball. Well, that was too slow because NFL defenses got too fast. This is just a modern-day version. I know a lot of teams are going to open it up and try to do more with it, but I have to see it to believe it because as last year went on, I saw more and more teams and defenses react to it much, much better and not only stop it but destroy it.”—Simms, on the zone read-option.
1. Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Pam Oliver (reporter).
2. Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst) and Tony Siragusa (reporter).
3. Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Brian Billick (analyst) and Laura Okmin (reporter).
4. Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), John Lynch (analyst) and Erin Andrews (reporter).
5. Chris Myers (play-by-play), Tim Ryan (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (reporter).
6. Dick Stockton (play-by-play), Ronde Barber (analyst) and Kris Budden (reporter).
7. Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Heath Evans (analyst), and Molly McGrath (reporter).
• FOX Sports executives private admit they had depth issues last year in the NFL broadcast group, so they reshaped a number of teams. The new trio of Burkhardt, Lynch (who moves from a team with Stockton) and Andrews is expected to get some big games.
• Sideline reporter Hale moves from the Stockton-Lynch team to the Myers-Ryan pairing (which remains the same from last year). McGrath, a former Celtics sideline reporter, makes her sideline debut with Rosen and Evans. Budden is also new to FOX’s broadcast lineup.
• Barber (who also appears on FOX Football Daily) makes his game broadcast debut with longtime announcer Stockton.
• Ron Pitts was not brought back as a play-by-play announcer.
• Aikman said because FOX will air the Super Bowl XLVIII this season on Feb. 2, 2014, his preparation will include more AFC teams than usual.
Falcons at Saints (Sept. 8, 1 p.m.); Packers at Niners (Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m.); Redskins at Packers (Sept. 15, 1 p.m.); Packers at Bengals (Sept. 22, 1 p.m.); Bears at Lions (Sept. 29, 1 p.m.); Seahawks at Texans (Sept. 29, 1 p.m.); Eagles at Broncos (Sept, 29, 4:25 p.m.); Saints at Bears (Oct. 6, 1 p.m.); Lions at Packers (Oct. 6, 1 p.m.); Seahawks at Colts (Oct. 6, 1 p.m.); Eagles at Giants (Oct. 6, 1 p.m.); Packers at Ravens (Oct. 13, 1 p.m.); Saints at Patriots (Oct. 13, 4:25 p.m.); Cowboys at Eagles (Oct. 20, 1 p.m.); Bears at Redskins (Oct. 20, 1 p.m.); Cowboys at Lions (Oct. 27, 1 p.m.); Giants at Eagles (Oct. 27, 1 p.m.); Redskins at Broncos (Oct. 27, 4:25 p.m.); Vikings at Cowboys (Nov. 3, 1 p.m.); Seahawks at Falcons (Nov. 10, 1 p.m.); Eagles at Packers (Nov. 10; 1 p.m.); Panthers at Niners (Nov. 10, 4:25 p.m.); Redskins at Eagles (Nov. 17, 1 p.m.); Niners at Saints (Nov. 17, 4:25 p.m.); Vikings at Seahawks (Nov. 17, 4:25 p.m.); Packers at Lions (Nov. 28, 12:30 p.m.); Bears at Vikings (Dec. 1, 1 p.m.); Vikings at Ravens (Dec. 8, 1 p.m.); Panthers at Saints (Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m.); Seahawks at Niners (Dec. 8, 4:25 p.m.); Redskins at Falcons (Dec. 15, 1 p.m.); Seahawks at Giants (Dec. 15, 1 p.m.); Packers at Cowboys (Dec. 15, 4:25 p.m.); Saints at Panthers (Dec. 22, 1 p.m.); Vikings at Bengals (Dec. 22, 1 p.m.); Bears at Eagles (Dec. 22, 1 p.m.); Cowboys at Redskins (Dec. 22, 1 p.m.); Panthers at Falcons (Dec. 29, 1 p.m.); Packers at Bears (Dec. 29, 1 p.m.); Eagles at Cowboys (Dec 29, 1 p.m.); Lions at Vikings (Dec. 29, 1 p.m.); Redskins at Giants (Dec. 29, 1 p.m.).
The MMQB television schedule rating: No. 2 of the five networks.
“There is more excitement for us when we kick off the year knowing we will see it all the way through to the game in New York. It adds an element of excitement for the whole network and it does for Joe (Buck) and I. It’s a historic game to be played in an outdoor, historic cold weather city. It will be unlike anything we have seen before. Whether that is good or bad, everyone has an opinion of that, playing in the cold. I think it will be awesome and I am looking forward to it.”—Aikman, on getting this year’s Super Bowl call.