Thursday, January 10, 2019

Unusual Fox announcer assignment for NFL playoffs (not seen since 1980)

The network which has the late Sunday afternoon window on NFL Divisional Playoff weekend almost always sends its #1 announcer crew to that game. This time slot traditionally obtains the highest ratings of any NFL playoff weekend and networks typically assign their top broadcast team to the game expected to draw the best TV rating.

However, this weekend, Fox has the late Sunday slot (Eagles-Saints), but is not using its #1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on that game. Instead, Fox is sending its #2 announcer team of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis to New Orleans. Fox is using Buck and Aikman on the Saturday prime time Cowboys-Rams game despite the fact that Eagles-Saints will almost certainly garner a much higher rating due to its favorable time slot.

The last time a network which had the late Sunday afternoon window chose to send its top announcers to a different divisional playoff game was during the 1980 playoffs when CBS sent its #1 team of Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier to call the early Saturday Vikings-Eagles game and assigned the #2 crew of Vin Scully and George Allen to the late Sunday Cowboys-Falcons matchup.

So the Fox announcer assignments for this weekend represent a situation that hasn't happened in 38 years - and has only occurred three previous times since the 1970 merger.

Here is a summary of the rare cases where a network which had the late Sunday divisional playoff window sent its #1 announcer crew to a different game (all years refer to the NFL season, even when the playoff games were played in January):

2018 - Fox - described above

1980 - CBS - described above

1978 - CBS - #1 team of Summerall and Brookshier called Falcons-Cowboys (late Saturday)
                         #2 team of Scully, Allen, and Jim Brown called Vikings-Rams (late Sunday)

1972 - NBC - #1 team of Curt Gowdy and Al Derogatis called Raiders-Steelers "immaculate reception" (early Saturday)
                          #2 team of Jim Simpson and Kyle Rote called Browns-Dolphins (late Sunday)