NEW LOOK FOR NBC’S “FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA”
Costas to Host Show from “Sunday Night Football” Game Site as Part of Increased Emphasis on Premier Primetime Game
“We have a treasure trove of talent to bring to this show every Sunday night.” – Ebersol
“When you see Bob Costas, you know it’s something big.” – Collinsworth
NEW YORK — August 26, 2009 — NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, who is also the executive producer of “Sunday Night Football,” today announced a new look for its NBC Sports’ Emmy Award-nominated NFL studio show “Football Night in America.” The show, which will still offer the most complete highlights and analysis from the day’s NFL action, will increase its emphasis on that night’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup, highlighted by Bob Costas moving from the studio to hosting the show from the game site.
Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, will host the show from a set at the “Sunday Night Football” game site. He will be joined by the new SNF broadcast team of Al Michaels, a six-time Emmy Award-winner whom the Associated Press has called “TV’s best play-by-play announcer,” and Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in sports television history, winning the award in nine of the 12 years of its existence and winning two additional Emmys for game analyst. Collinsworth moves from the studio to the broadcast booth alongside Michaels to replace the recently-retired John Madden.
Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, who together redefined sports highlights during their time at ESPN, successfully reunited last year on “Football Night” and will continue their partnership. They are joined at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios by Tony Dungy, the historic Super Bowl coach whose teams made the playoffs each of the last 10 seasons, unprecedented in this era, the outspoken two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “Football Night’s” Tiki Barber will report from the site of one of the NFL’s big games as he did towards the end of last season.
The announcement was made today by Ebersol on a media conference call, joined by Costas, Collinsworth and Michaels. For a complete replay, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 4247954. Highlights follow:
EBERSOL ON EVENTS BROADCAST ON NBC SPORTS: “Many of you through the years have said to me, this recent year in particular, how an event feels on NBC. The feedback we’ve received consistently, is an event seems bigger or seems to have a certain stature or context when it’s on NBC — whether it’s the Beijing Olympics, the U.S. Open, the Kentucky Derby or hockey’s new Winter Classic — they feel like more than just a game, they feel like an event. Your feedback validates what I’ve always felt – that at our best, we aspire to give the viewer the best single seat at the event — not the hype around the event, but the story of the event itself. And if in a moment of weakness if I personally descend to too much hype, I’ve always had Bob around and he’s got the world’s best BS detector.”
EBERSOL ON ROLE OF COMMENTATORS: “Our commentators play a critical role in the success of these events, and I give a lot of the credit to Bob and the keen sensibility he brings to telling the story of an event. The news today is to take this incredible trio of talent, Bob, Al and Cris and give them a forum every Sunday night at the top of ‘Football Night in America’ to discuss the news of the National Football League, the big news of the week, the news of the day and if there are other major developments in the world of sports, I stress major, they’ll get into that.”
COSTAS ON BEING AT THE GAME SITE: “I think it’s obvious that when you’re at the scene of an event you get a whole different feel. You get to be part of the atmosphere. You’re talking about a specific event and it isn’t just any game it is always one of the biggest and very often the obvious biggest marquee game of that particular Sunday.
“While I’ve always enjoyed doing the studio show, we have Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, kind of the highlight tag team, and Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy to talk about the events of the day elsewhere and I just think it’s a better use of me at this point to have me at the scene of an event.”
COLLINSWORTH ON HAVING COSTAS ON SITE: “We have the peacock at the game site now. No question Al and I have been around a few other places in our career but Bob Costas, when you see his smiling face at an event, you know that it’s an NBC event and you know that it’s going to be something pretty special.”
EBERSOL ON COSTAS, MICHAELS & COLLINSWORTH: “This trio of talent is unsurpassed probably in the history of television. In Bob you have the best host/anchor in the sports world of his generation. In Al, you have unquestionably the best play-by-play guy of his generation. And Cris, phenomenally in the 12 years the Emmy’s have given an Emmy for studio analyst, he’s won 9 out of the 12 times, and two of the last three years he’s won the award for the best game analyst. We have a treasure trove of talent to bring to this show every Sunday night.”
EBERSOL ON HIGHLIGHTS: “The highlights will still come from New York and the best studio tag team ever of Dan and Keith will still be in New York. Highlights will still be a large focus of the show. There will be just as many highlights as there have been in the past. When we looked at the compelling schedule the league provided us, we wanted to showcase these games as the true events that so many of them are.”
EBERSOL ON “FOOTBALL NIGHT” BEING A STUDIO SHOW: “A pregame show would be something where you spend an inordinate amount of time making up what you think is going to happen in the game. None of these guys are ‘hypemasters’ and if I tried to get them to hype they would all laugh me out of the building. I think you’ll find that between the newsmakers’ segments, the live interviews and the expertise that these guys bring to the dance, that this won’t be a comedy show of guesswork.”
EBERSOL ON HIGHLIGHTS: “The highlights are a very, very important key role in the show. We fought very hard to get the right to be the main highlight distributor on Sundays from the league and they will still be more than half of the show.”
COSTAS ON WHAT HE BRINGS TO AN EVENT: “Even events like the Winter Classic or the Kentucky Derby — it’s been a long time since I was around the NHL on a regular basis and I don’t ever try to pass myself off as a horse racing expert — but I think I’m still able to bring something to those events by capturing the atmosphere and making it more accessible to the casual fan, the guy who doesn’t read the Racing Form everyday or doesn’t follow the NHL day in day out. The idea is that this is a big event that captures the interest of hardcore and casual fans alike. That’s what we try to do on the Olympics as well. I think it was the difference in our Super Bowl coverage. That’s really more of what sportscasting is about then being confined to a studio.”
COSTAS ON WORKING WITH MICHAELS: “Al and I who have been friends for a longtime and with the exception of our epic collaboration on BASEketball have not had a chance to combine talents until now.”
MICHAELS ON WORKING WITH COSTAS: “Bob and I are also here to announce that we will not be a part of the sequel to BASEketball despite the fact that we have been offered $463 million apiece to do it.”
COSTAS: “But Al will be appearing in the Pooty Tang sequel.”
MICHAELS: “That is your deal my boy.”
MICHAELS ON OPENING THE STUDIO SHOW FROM THE GAME SITE: “It just really helps set the tone for the Sunday Night game. I know you guys have been on so many of these calls for years and we’re always talking about ‘oh we’ve got the best schedule and it’s great,’ but if you look at the schedule, it’s phenomenal. We have all of the NFC East rivalries, we have Chicago-Green Bay, we’ve got Indianapolis and New England. These are the games that people want to see. Just to have Bob there and to have Cris there as well is going to lend a different look to it and enable us to do some of the things that we couldn’t do in the past. This is going to be a lot fun for us.”
COLLINSWORTH ON THE ENERGY OF BEING AT A LIVE EVENT: “As we saw this year on the Olympic coverage, when Bob got out of the studio it seemed to put a little spring in his step. I would come back in and he would come flying back in from his police escort through Beijing like the President of the United States. You could see the energy that we all felt being at the Olympic events and Bob was getting a feel of that too. That energy carried over to the broadcast.
“I think you’re going to get that same sense now with Bob at the event. Clearly, he means something. When you saw Al Michaels and Howard Cosell in the day you knew it was something big. When you see Bob Costas you know it’s something big.”
COLLINSWORTH ON CHANGES TO STUDIO SHOW: “I think it’s going to do tremendous things for the studio. We’ll handle a lot of the preliminary news of the day at the game site. It will allow the studio to really focus in on what happened that day in the games because certainly that is enough of a challenge. I really like the changes. I think this is going to make the entire broadcast from 7 p.m. until midnight streamlined and efficient and a lot of fun to be a part of.”
COSTAS ON THE INTERVIEWS IN THE 8 PM ET SEGMENT: “We hope to make that window the premier destination for players and coaches and football figures. It will be the place that they want to reach the largest audience in the most credible way — those who are at the site of the game we are doing or if we need to use the satellite if something really major has happened earlier in the day, we’ll try to do it in that window. This is going to bolster the quality and content of what we would have if I were confined to the studio.”
“FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA”: “NBC Sunday Night Football” the premier primetime game of the week, is preceded by the “Football Night in America” studio show, which kicks off NBC’s regular season coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, will host the show from a set at the “Sunday Night Football” game site, joined by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-hosts Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, who together redefined sports highlights at ESPN, will narrate the highlights from the 30 Rock studio. They are joined by analysts Tony Dungy, the historic Super Bowl coach whose teams made the playoffs each of the last 10 seasons, unprecedented in this era, and Rodney Harrison, the three-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion. Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country’s foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the “Football Night in America” studio show.
HIGHLIGHTS OF “NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” SCHEDULE
- All 12 NFL playoff teams from last season are featured.
- Fourteen of NBC’s 16 scheduled games involve at least one playoff team from last season.
- Giants at Cowboys opens the $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium, “the 8th Wonder of the World.” It’s a rematch of the most viewed game ever on “Sunday Night Football.”
- Three appearances a piece from six marquee teams: this year’s Super Bowl champion Steelers, last year’s Super Bowl champion Giants plus Dallas, Indianapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia.
- Six games involving one of the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli.
- Quarterback duels between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Peyton and Kurt Warner, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb and Jay Cutler.
- Four matchups among bitter NFC East rivals: Giants-Cowboys, Cowboys-Eagles, Eagles-Giants and Cowboys-Redskins.
- A rematch of last year’s hard-hitting AFC Championship game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore and last year’s AFC divisional playoff game between the Steelers and the Chargers.