Here is How NBC Can Fix “Football Night in America"

Here is How NBC Can Fix “Football Night in America"


Here is How NBC Can Fix “Football Night in America"


NFL studio programming is not the place to go off the wall with satire and non-football topics, but that does not mean it needs to be stale, boring, and background noise. NBC’s Football Night in America, in particular, has become all too characterless and is in need of a change.

The three most acclaimed pregame shows are Inside the NBA, College GameDay, and FOX NFL Sunday all for the same reason: they are entertaining, feature star personalities, and get people talking after the show concludes. None of that can be said for Football Night in America. 

The studio show spends a larger portion of its time on highlights, with two analysts (Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison), some interviews, and a few news updates from Mike Florio. Besides the interviews, the rest of the content has already been seen and read across social media and is obsolete by the time it is shown. Therefore, NBC needs to completely overhaul this format when replacing Dan Patrick (speculated to be succeeded by Mike Tirico). It needs to create a show with more opinions, more original thoughts, more fun, and with a more lively cast.

In 2009, NBC shook things up by adding Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison in the studio to replace Cris Collinsworth and Jerome Bettis, but that has been one of the major problems with the show. Neither Dungy or Harrison provide exciting content to the show or say anything that would make a single viewer remember what was said.

If they insist on staying with Harrison and Dungy, they need to add a roundtable of other personalities to help drive conversation.

There are several options that come to mind. The one that should receive the first call is the one who offers the most potential: Peyton Manning. This position at first glance seems to be a more desirable job compared to the multiple color-commentator positons Manning has previously turned down.

This platform would allow Manning the ability to articulate his opinion on subjects instead of breaking down games in the booth. Football Night in America comes with much less travel and consistent schedule as well.

Other upgrade options are recently retired Joe Thomas (has auditioned for both ESPN and Fox) or Martellus Bennett who both look primed for television careers.

A wild card that would certainly add excitement to the program is NBC’s own Chris Simms. Simms would either be a turn off to the audience as he is best known for insanely ranking QBs on the Dan Le Batard Show, or someone who viewers find wildly entertaining.

he could be a highly entertaining  NFL’s version of Charles Barkley

If a new format was put in place, NBC would not need to stick to just former athletes. Both Michael Wilbon (NBA Countdown) and Colin Cowherd (FOX NFL Kickoff) have impressed on their time on their respected pregame shows. Mike Florio can leave the insider table and join in on the conversation as he has shown the ability to opine on the NFL at a high level on his radio show. Along with Florio, Peter King – who was previously on the show in the insider role – would actually be more compelling and insightful than the majority of former NFL players.

The show this past year saw a rating decline of over two million viewers weekly but that was also the case for much of the NFL’s programming in 2018. But this a “get ahead of the curve” suggestion as Football Night in America abandons what all sports content should be — fun.

[Photo via Michael Shamburger]

More Big Lead