Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Jun 2005

NBC Gets Exclusive Highlight Rights

Talk about burying your lead. Doug Kennedy of Pittsburgh LIVE waits until the 15th paragraph of his story on the NFL's new TV contracts to drop this little number on us:

Another plus for NBC is that no one, including ESPN, will be able to air any NFL highlights until midnight or after on Sunday. “So people will be tuning into NBC for highlights,� said [Vice President of Communications and Marketing for NBC Mike] McCarley.

I assume there's an exception for in-game highlights; I can't imagine that Fox would relinquish the rights to cut away from Packers-Vikings and show us a highlight of Bears-Lions. But this still means that I won't be able to flip over to ESPNews during the commercials of the late-afternoon games and watch highlights of the early-afternoon games I missed. I don't like that one bit.

NBC presumably will now have a highlight show, hosted by Bob Costas, that comes on right before the Sunday night game. That show will be the only place you can see NFL highlights on Sunday.

Hat tip: Pro Football Talk

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 27 Jun 2005

48 comments, Last at 07 Jul 2005, 2:56am by Scott


by Vern (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 1:37pm

I’m okay with the NFL not allowing ESPN’s NFL Prime Time to run before/opposite the Sunday night game, but I wonder, does this mean local post-game shows cannot show highlights either? For example, Patriot’s Fifth Quarter comes on after most Pats games showing primarily just the highlights of that Pats game as they do the breakdown. But then also, what about the halftime show of the 4pm game? No highlights there either now?

by Ken Scudder (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 1:37pm

No NFL PrimeTime?!? That sucks. I wonder if this includes local news coverage of local teams. Does WCBS not have the right to show highlights on the 11p news of the game they broadcast 6 hours earlier?

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:04pm

As somebody without cable, I welcome this move. But do you really think Costas would host the show? I didn't know he was ever a football guy.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:26pm

Jerry, Bob Costas has hosted "Inside the NFL" on HBO for a few years. So an NFL highlight show shouldn't be too far beyond his ken.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:27pm

Costas hosted the studio show the last time NBC had the NFL, so I assume he'll do it again. He also hosts Inside the NFL on HBO.

My guess is the NBC contract is pretty strict about not letting local news show highlights, although there might be some kind of exception that an affiliate can show highlights of the game(s) it showed. Overall, I see this as a negative because it gives fans fewer opportunities to see highlights, but if NBC does a great job with the show I might be won over.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:30pm

So CBS and FOX won't be able to show highlights on their halftime and post-game shows either? That's just bizarre.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:45pm

Maybe it'll be like the olympics and the other networks will report the scores with still photos of the game.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:48pm

Wasn’t “NFL Primetime� supposed to be a lead-in to ESPN’s Sunday night game? This change just means it’ll be the lead-in to their Monday night game.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 2:50pm

ESPN already uses NFL Primetime as a lead in to the Monday Night Game, so the only change is one less day of it, although I imagine they'll still have an NFL recap show on Sundays, just with no game film.

by Glenn (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 3:06pm

Frankly, I could do without Berman and Jackson. I'll just click from ESPN to NBC at that time. I'll give the Prime Time show credit for showing plays beyond the mere touchdowns (such as the evolution of a scoring drive), and I hope NBC does the same. Otherwise, I welcome this change.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 3:10pm

An NFL recap without game tape . . . I don't know how I'll chose between that and a new show on CBS, "Watching Paint Dry."

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 3:33pm

Ah. I guess I just remembered him from basketball and baseball. It's too bad you can't get just hbo and not cable. After all, it's not even tv anyway.

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 3:45pm

Yeah, I believe Costas hosted the NBC studio show for at least 10 years, beginning in the early '80s.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 4:26pm

I wonder what kind of ratings they'd get if for Sundays they made CNBC into a ESPNews type operation. What else are they showing on weekends?

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 4:44pm

Devin, that's the best idea I've heard in weeks. Come on, GE. Give us an all-football channel on Sundays.

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 5:17pm

Not so up on legal matters, but NBC could sell highlights to ESPN?

by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 5:59pm

I feel like all the networks but NBC got jobbed in this round of deals. NBC gets all the Sunday highlight rights (which they probably will turn around and sell to every other network), they get the biggest timeslot, and they get the Super Bowl twice in 6 years. They also only have to produce one game a week, instead of Fox and CBS who have to produce about 6 each simultaneously. And they're only paying $100 million per year, compared with about $110 from CBS and $120 from Fox - and inexplicably $138 million from ESPN.

by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 6:01pm

It'll be like boxing coverage, they talk about it while they show still photos..

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 6:15pm

I agree with Glenn on the depth of highlights Primetime showed - between the extended highlights and the weekly running thread here, it almost felt like I actually watched some of those other games. I think I'm a little more tolerant of the Berman schtick, though. I really hope NBC does as good of a job of showing more than the 'big' plays.

The NFL has always been a little odd with highlights though. If you can stomach Stuart Scott, watch one of those 'top 20' shows on ESPN Classic, and you'll notice that any time the NFL comes up there are no highlights. For some of them they don't even have stills. And that includes games originally shown on ESPN or ABC. It's like they don't have the rights to their own broadcasts. I wonder how this relates to (or effects) NFL Films and the NFL Network.

Crazy thought - does this rule apply to instant replays? Technically they are highlights in a sense...

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 6:43pm

Speaking of NFL Network, ever notice when they replay old games, they don't use the tv announcers, but they use the radio guys instead? I think that's cause the tv announcers are owned by the networks, but the radio announcers are owned by the teams, and therefore the league.

by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 7:14pm

If you have nfl network on demand, they have ten minute highlights of each game put up the following day. Best highlights around.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 9:47pm

No more NFL Primetime....life no longer has meaning...walls closing in....

Oh wait, I have NFL Network with On Demand highlights. Phew.

Remember the days before Primetime? When Primetime debuted, we didn't have satellite dishes and the internet and pagers to give us second-by-second updates. It was THE source for out-of-region game info on Sunday night.

Anyway, my personal wish list now begins and ends with hour long reviews of each and every game, with each significant play shown, played on NFLNetwork on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Or as my friend says: "Hook up the drip".

by Jersey (not verified) :: Mon, 06/27/2005 - 9:59pm

no primetime?? I look forward to that every sunday.. oh well.

by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 9:35am

I am so sick of Chris Berman's schtick I could puke. No more Primetime? Good.

by yossarian (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 11:19am

Yeah, I remember waiting anxiously for PrimeTime when it first came on the air because I legitimately did not know yet who won the other games. Now, I'm usually so tired of watching the highlights I can't watch PT.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 2:34pm

I like watching Primetime because it allows me to bask for a little longer in the glow of the Patriot's victory that week.

by Glenn (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 3:06pm

Uh, Scott, I'm a big Pats fan too, but let's please try to be humble about it.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 3:17pm

I always thought the off-season was the perfect time to wax arrogant after a good year. You won't have to eat your words right away, and you can try to deny you said anything if your team collapses in a few months. ;-)

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 4:40pm

Sorry, I don't think I'll be blackmailed into watching NBC. I'll wait and get my highlights where I want them.

If the Sunday night games turn out anything like last year's games, I won't be watching them half the time either. It'll spare me from having to watch hours of commercials for terrible TV shows that I'll never see anyway. It's bad enough that ESPN comes up with another sad excuse for programming about once every six months.

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 5:01pm

If the Sunday night games turn out anything like last year’s games, I won’t be watching them half the time either.

Week 1 - Den 34, KC 24 (tied going into 4th quarter)
Week 2 - Cin 16, Mia 13
Week 3 - Oak 30, TB 20
Week 4 - Stl 24, SF 14
Week 5 - Bal 17, Was 10
Week 6 - Min 38, NO 31
Week 7 - None
Week 8 - Chi 23, SF 13 (tied going into 4th)
Week 9 - Bal 27, Cle 13 (12-10 going into 4th)
Week 10 - NE 29, Buf 6
Week 11 - GB 16, Hou 13 (GB trailed by 10 entering 4th)
Week 12 - Oak 25, Den 24 (Oak scores 14 points in final 6 minutes)
Week 13 - Pit 17, Jac 16
Week 14 - Phi 17, Was 14
Week 15 - Ind 20, Bal 10
Week 16 - Mia 10, Cle 7
Week 17 - NYG 28, Dal 24

16 Sunday night games. 14 decided by 10 or fewer points. 8 decided by 4 or fewer points or tied going into 4th quarter.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 9:47pm

Richie -
But the Lions didn't play in any of those games!

by Wayne (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 9:56pm

I doubt the NFL had overseas viewers in mind when they struck these deals. But with ABC/ESPN losing Sunday night football, it means one less game we get to see in Australia (through ESPN).

Perhaps more importantly, Prime Time was crucial viewing for me as the only source of highlights for all the Sunday games which will now disappear. Besides I like Berman.

We will still have one or two Fox games a week but I have trouble seeing the actual game play through all their graphics and promos!

by Glenn (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 12:54am

OK, the folks at Pro Football Talk have updated the confusion regarding the use of highlights by the other networks outside the NBC Sun night highlight show:

"NFL V.P. of public relations Greg Aiello tells us that, while the primetime highlight show will move from ESPN to NBC, no other changes will be made.

"What that story suggested is incorrect," Aiello said. "The change in the showing of highlights is that our extended network highlights show on Sunday is moving from ESPN to NBC. ESPN will run its extended highlights show . . . at midnight."

In other words, the local television stations will still show highlights during the Sunday evening news. The NFL Network will show highlights. ESPN will show highlights on the 11:00 p.m. SportsCenter. And so on."

Woulda been nice if the original Pittsburg writer had gotten that straight.

by Jack (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 3:32am

"Richie -
But the Lions didn’t play in any of those games!"

That's because the Lions are fucking terrible. I don't know why the NFL even lets them keep the Thanksgiving game.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 2:59pm

Yes, I agree with TMQ. It's time to quit giving the Cowboys and Lions the Thanksgiving games every year.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 4:14pm

I think the Cowboys and the Lions should play eachother on Thanksgiving, and the rest of us can take the oppurtunity to spend the holiday with our loved ones, away from football.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 4:38pm

Re #30: Richie, the games may have been close, but when there's only one game on, I'm not going to spend three-plus hours devoted to it if the teams don't interest me (Oakland-Tampa Bay, Miami-Cleveland, Giants-Dallas) or if it doesn't seem to be an evenly-matched game and doesn't play that way (like Patriots-Bills). Hey, I just finished watching 12-14 games in seven hours. If there's only one game on, it better be a good one.

I think the Cowboys and Lions keep the Thanksgiving Day games in part because the other teams don't necessarily want them. Guaranteed national-TV audience = good. Playing on Thanksgiving with three days' rest = bad.

I'd actually rather have the games rotate among all the teams. There are few Sundays less interesting for me than the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 5:56pm

You are forgetting that the Thanksgiving Day games are guaranteed HOME games where your opponent has to come into your town on three days rest.

Advantage (if you're not the Lions): Home Team.

Hence the reason the Lombardi stopped the Packers from going into Detroit on Thanksgiving every season.

by Seth (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 6:35pm

The Pittsburgh story is incorrect. There is only one change taking effect in 2006 -- ESPN cannot do Primetime until after NBC's game on Sunday night. All local news shows, etc., will operate under the same rules as always.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 9:04pm

zlionsfan -

I guess if you are only interested in watching the teams you like to watch, there are going to be a lot of primetime games you won't watch.

Personally, I don't want to have to see the Patriots and Eagles on every primetime game.

I like when teams that I don't normally watch get a primetime game. It gives me the chance to watch a team up-close, that I might not otherwise see.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 11:50pm

TMQ did an analysis of the Thanksgiving games and found that they are worth half a win a season to the Lions and the Cowboys.

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:12am

So the Thanksgiving games are advantages that those cities have... I mean, I'm all for parity, but at the same time that doesnt mean all the teams have to be the same. Certain cities offer certain advantages (e.g. Miami games 1 and 2, Lambeau in playoffs (?) ) and it offers a certain extra dimension to the teams which I like.

Also, guaranteed home game, yeah, I guess, but Im not sure on this, I doubt that they get an EXTRA home game for the season, do they? It would seem that every team has eight guaranteed home games.

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 11:02am

Um, re: thanksgiving being worth an extra half win a year to the Lions, has anyone checked if that "unfair" advantage has contributed to the Lions many Super Bowl wins and appearances??

In case you've been asleep the past forty years, it clearly hasn't been enough of an advantage to make my Lions anything more than a sad joke. Shut up, and leave their one shining moment most years alone. Darn it. By gum.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 11:11am

HLF: Don't look at the Thanksgiving game as benefiting the Lions, look at it as benefiting the Cowboys. Then you'll want to get rid of it.
Reinheart: The unfair advantage is if you look at the Cowboys/Lions record for all thier home games not including the thanksgiving game, and compare it to the overall thanksgiving record, the thanksgiving record is a little better than it should be.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 2:41pm

Click on my name for a link to a story that shows that the Lions and Cowboys have BOTH actually underperformed their overall home record by about 3 percentage points each.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 2:48pm

Thanks for the link, Richie. Of course, the NFL tries to put marquee teams in the Thanksgiving slots against the Lions and Cowboys, so it's no surprise that they're actually a little worse on Thanksgiving than they are in other home games. But I really don't understand why some people see it as an advantage to play on Thanksgiving. I want to keep the tradition because I'm a Lions fan and I like watching my team every year on Thanksgiving. I would also like a third Thanksgiving game, in prime time, and that could be rotated among all the teams.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 7:44pm

I actually prefer the primetime college games on Thanksgiving, since you usually get pretty intense rivalries like the Egg Bowl or Texas/A&M. I'm pretty sure I enjoy the evening college games more than I'd like a third random NFL game, especially since it would be harder to flexibly schedule a holiday game to guarantee a good matchup.

by Scott (not verified) :: Thu, 07/07/2005 - 2:56am

So will there still be highlights at halftime of the game on CBS and FOX?