There have been three truly iconic pregame or postgame studio shows in American sports television: “The NFL Today” in the Brent Musburger/Jimmy The Greek years, “Inside the NBA” on TNT, and ESPN’s “College GameDay.”
While the first two were normal studio shows boosted by tremendous personalities, “College GameDay” has personalities and had the tremendous idea of doing the show in front of a live audience. Having the fans as part of the show’s scenery, holding signs and reacting to Lee Corso’s pick, makes the show what it is. Taking the show on the road brought prestige too. If Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and company are coming to do their show before your game, it must be a big one.
NFL pregame shows are seeing lower ratings this year, so why not try to take a page from the college game? Fox is doing its “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show this Sunday outside the Los Angeles Coliseum, taking a page from “College GameDay” before a fun Philadelphia Eagles-Los Angeles Rams matchup. The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer reported that news, and said the show at the Coliseum will be the main pregame show with Curt Menefee, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson.
It’s interesting on a few levels. First, it seems like this the first time since football returned to Los Angeles that a game has been a really big deal. The Rams and Chargers have had various issues getting fans on board, but that seems to be turning around with both teams winning this season.
Also, maybe it’s a sign of something new in pregame shows. It seems ESPN, CBS and Fox have tried through the years to liven up the shows by changing the former players and coaches in studio, but there haven’t been many huge changes to how things are fundamentally done. This experiment is easier for Fox, given that the show was already in Los Angeles. The NFL isn’t like the college game, in that it’s easier to get rowdy college students to a spot on campus to hold signs for “GameDay,” whereas it would be a challenge getting a crowd to show up that early for an NFL pregame show. It’s possible this doesn’t work at all for an NFL show. On the other hand, when “College GameDay” started going on the road, people probably didn’t anticipate it becoming a huge hit either. Maybe this will be the start of something new in NFL programming.
At least it’s different. Fox is clearly happy to have Eagles-Rams, the marquee NFC matchup this week, and not have it flexed to NBC. With pregame shows being fairly stagnant for years, this seems like the perfect opportunity to try something new.
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