According to a study by The Wall Street Journal, the panels on network NFL pregame shows can spend over 10 percent of their airtime engaging in fits of collective laughter.
An analysis of the Week 5 pregame programs showed that Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Curt Menefee and Michael Strahan(notes) of FOX spent two minutes, 22 seconds laughing together during their 20 minutes on air. That was more than triple the amount of time spent laughing by the CBS crew of Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason, Greg Gumbel, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe, who clocked in at a meager 43 seconds.
FOX beat CBS in forced laughter? That's a monumental upset on the scale of The Miracle on Ice, Appalachian State over Michigan or Rocky knocking out Drago. I know Terry Bradshaw is bad (he laughed for 92 seconds during the show), but the team of Marino, Sharpe and Esiason are like a murderer's row of phony laughers. I'd have guaranteed that they were more prone to bursts of contrived guffaws. Just listen to them:
(Yes, that's from a different year, but you get the gist.)
I'm going to call Week 5 a statistical outlier and implore The Wall Street Journal to look at more data before coming to any conclusion. I'd do it myself, but that would mean I'd have to watch both the FOX and CBS pregame shows and I don't know if I'm emotionally able to make that sacrifice.