Football is the only sport where I’ll watch any game even if my team isn’t playing. I’ve been a big fan of Monday Night Football since the 70’s when I discovered it as a kid. The production value, the fact that it was on during primetime and the announcers made it must see TV for me. Over the years MNF has lost much of its lustre and even now, Sunday Night Football is generally seen as the main event for NFL fans.
So while I don’t make MNF must see TV, unless it’s a particularly engaging matchup, I’ll watch. This week was the first Monday night game and I didn’t even bother to record it. I checked the score and since it was somewhat close I thought I’d watch the last quarter. It was being shown on 3 different TSN channels which gets the ESPN feeds. I assumed they were all the same but realized they weren’t. There was the standard broadcast but there was also an alternative that featured Peyton and Eli Manning, watching remotely and Russell Wilson was joining them. It took me a few minutes to realize this was not a insert from the main feed but rather this was its own viewing experience. I later realized they had Charles Barkley on earlier but from the 4th quarter until the completion of overtime, Wilson and the Manning brothers shared their insights, commentary and reactions. And it was a delight!
I’ve always been a fan of getting as close to the action as possible. I love the inside scoop. These three were focused on each other and the game and less so the audience. In other words, they didn’t try to explain what a M route was or a nickel defense, they just watch it as colleagues and fans. We were sitting on the couch in the same room and getting the knowledge of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. As I learned from this article, they did a bunch of other cool stuff throughout the broadcast. I can see the value in having both feeds, certainly a traditional broadcast with announcer and commentator is a tried and true formula. But maybe it’s the formula that is tiresome. All media, particularly broadcast media is realizing that their past methods are not resonating with younger audiences. They are looking to social media and the TikTok generation to attract younger people, I’m not sure if this was such an attempt but for me it was refreshing and something that will make me tune into any game. Even if it’s Detroit vs. Green Bay.