NBC’s “Sunday Night Football’’ has become the NFL’s signature production, with massive ratings, the best play-by-play/analyst tandem in the business in Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, and a compelling schedule that is inevitably enhanced late in the season by flex scheduling.
Oh, and this year, it also has Carrie Underwood singing the theme song.
Like the Patriots of a decade ago, “Sunday Night Football,’’ which has won the Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Series five years running, is a juggernaut in its prime.
There’s no doubt these are the good old days for NBC’s partnership with the NFL; the program doesn’t have the buzz that “Monday Night Football” and Howard Cosell gave ABC in its 1970s heyday, but that’s only because the TV landscape has changed so drastically.
The question is obviously decades past whether the NFL can be a successful prime-time entity, but whether there is any saturation point when it comes to fans’ seemingly unquenchable thirst for NFL content.
With Fox Sports 1 launching nearly two weeks ago and CBS Sports Network planning a four-hour pregame show this season, it’s reasonable to ask whether there’s a point when it all becomes too much. But “Sunday Night Football’’ producer Fred Gaudelli said he doesn’t expect to find the answer any time soon.
“I don’t see people complaining that there’s too much NFL product on now,’’ Gaudelli said. “At some point ratings will get involved and how much you can sell things for will be the determining factor. But in a country now where we have what, five 24-hour sports networks, I mean, how can you not have room for an NFL show or two or three. So I think at some point, we hit the threshold. Where that is, I have no idea.”
“Sunday Night Football’’ unofficially becomes Thursday night football in six days when the NFL season kicks off on NBC with the Super Bowl champion Ravens visiting Peyton Manning and the Broncos. As Michaels notes, it’s the first of what could be an appealing matchup every week on the network.
“We have Manning against [Tom] Brady for maybe the last time as Denver goes to New England [Nov. 24],’’ he said. “We have Manning going into Indianapolis halfway through the season, which will be spectacular. We’ve talked about the opening of the season, what that means.
“The league has done a great job positioning games.’’
Surely the NFL would agree that NBC has done a great job producing them.
Jon Rish, who abruptly resigned from his position as the fill-in play-by-play voice and host for WEEI’s Red Sox broadcasts in April after being asked to take a pay cut, will be heard on a Red Sox broadcast again Friday — just on a different medium.
Rish will be alongside Don Orsillo in NESN’s broadcast booth for the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox through at least Monday’s matinee with the Tigers. Peter Gammons will also be in the booth Friday.
Jon Meterparel and Pete Cronan are back on the call when Boston College football opens its season Saturday by hosting Villanova at noon. The game can be heard on flagship WEEI 93.7 as well as 14 other stations around New England on the BC IMG Sports Network. Meterparel and Cronan are beginning their ninth season together. This is the 26th season for Cronan on Eagles broadcasts. There is one new addition: former BC quarterback Scott Mutryn replaces another former Eagles quarterback, Brian St. Pierre, as the sideline reporter . . . Finally, a tip of the cap to WEEI and NESN for raising more than $3.3 million during the 12th Annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. The event has raised more than $34 million for adult and pediatric care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since its inception in 2002. The Red Sox’ acknowledgment of former WEEI program director Jason Wolfe before Tuesday’s game was well-deserved. Wolfe, instrumental in WEEI’s commitment to the event, threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches. Who knew he was a lefty?