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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)

12 comments:

  1. Very interesting stuff--I'm surprised that Sun aft does a higher rating than Sat primetime---although I do know that Sat nite is the lowest nit of the week

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    1. TV ratings details for last weekend at http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/nfl-tv-ratings-viewership-nbc-cbs-fox-espn-nfln-regular-season-playoffs/ (also contains similar data for the past several years)

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  2. Dallas is "America's Team", and Los Angeles is the number-two TV market.

    That's why Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are in L.A. this weekend!

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    1. As predicted in the original post, Phi-NO outrated Dal-LA by a decent margin (20.8 to 17.9 with about 5M more viewers) demonstrating the power of the Sun aft time slot. Ratings details at http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/nfl-tv-ratings-viewership-nbc-cbs-fox-espn-nfln-regular-season-playoffs/#18div

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  3. thank god for the spanish SAP broadcast. hate the cowgirls, hate joe f*ck, hate that stupid dumb blonde on the sidelines. hope the rams kick their ass

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  4. In 1977, when Sunday December 25 saw no football, the AFC went the day before on Saturday and the NFC went the day after on Monday. Both networks used their #1 team in the early game and the #2 team for the late game. Gowdy did the Ghost-to-the-Post, Simpson did the fumble 30 feet up in the air, Summerall and Brookshier did the Snooze-fest in Dallas, and then Scully got the Mud Bowl at the LA Coliseum.

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  5. Here's another interesting tidbit about the 1977 NFL playoffs. It appears neither No. 1 team broadcast the conference championship games that year which were held Sunday, Jan. 1, 1978. According to Wikipedia, the team of Dick Enberg-Len Dawson broadcast the AFC title game between Denver and Oakland. That team didn't handle either game on Dec. 24 as Gowdy-Brodie did Ghost to the Post and Simpson-Merlin Olsen handled Denver-Steelers. And in the NFC, Scully and Alex Hawkins handled NFC title game between Vikings and Cowboys rather than Summerall and Brookshier. CBS had Super Bowl that year which was broadcast by Summerall and Brookshier. Interesting though that 3 different NBC teams handled the 3 AFC playoff games.

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    1. Yes. One reason for the unusual NBC assignements for the 1977 season is that Gowdy/Brodie called the Rose Bowl on Jan 2. Another interesting fact is that in 1975, CBS used a different announcer team for each of the 4 playoff games it televised. The Super Bowl was the only postseason game called by Summerall and Brookshier that season. Networks treated announcer assignments quite differently in the 1970s compared to today.

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    2. When CBS had the Super Bowl, Summerall would do that and Scully would get the NFC Championship (and that's what they did in 1981 when Madden replaced Brookshier in the top spot, meaning Scully got to call "The Catch." There's been a lot of debate about this, but the rumor was that when he signed with CBS, Scully was promised the Super Bowl. The executives in charge then rotated out before long, so I wonder if that was the consolation prize, as the 1981 championship was from Terry O'Neil.

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  6. Just checked those CBS pairings from 1975. Some interesting names there with Unitas, Stram and Sonny J. as analysts and Frank Gleiber, who was one of my favorites from that era, and Gary Bender as play-by-play guys.

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  7. I also miss playoff starting times of 12:30 and 4 on Saturdays and on conference championship day.

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