- NFL on FOX
show_name = NFL on FOX
caption = "NFL on FOX" logo used since 2003.
runtime = 180 minutes or until game ends
creator = Fox Sports
starring = "FOX NFL Sunday" crew "NFL on FOX" game commentators
country = USA
network = FOX
September 18, 1994
last_aired = present
website = http://msn.foxsports.com/nflonfox
imdb_id = 0896893
"NFL on FOX" is the brand name of the
Fox Broadcasting Company's coverage of the National Football League's National Football Conferencegames, produced by Fox Sports. Game coverage is usually preceded by the pre-game show " FOX NFL Sunday".
The broadcast's distinctive
theme musichas been used since its inception in 1994. Derivatives of the "NFL on FOX" theme have been incorporated throughout Fox Sports' programming, including Fox Sports Net, as Fox Sports' overall theme, and FOX is in the process of registering the original theme as a trademark. [ USPTOserial number 78590770; can be accessed via the [http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk Trademark Electronic Search System] .] The theme was produced by Scott Schreer through his production company NJJ Music. The theme was composed by Scott Schreer, Reed Haysand Phil Garrod.
Though FOX was growing rapidly as a network, and had established itself as a presence, it was still not considered a major competitor to the "big three" broadcast networks (ABC,
CBS, and NBC). FOX management, having seen the critical role that soccerprogramming had played in the growth of British satellite service BSkyB, believed that sports, and specifically professional football, would be the engine that would make FOX a major network the quickest.
To this end, FOX bid aggressively for football from the start. In 1987 (FOX's first full year on the air), after ABC initially hedged on renewing its contract to carry "
Monday Night Football", FOX offered the NFL to pick up the contract for the same amount ABC had been paying, about $1.3 billion at the time. However, the NFL, in part because FOX had not established itself as a major network, chose to renew their contract with ABC.
Despite a few successful shows, the network did not have a significant market share until the early 1990s when News Corp. bought more TV station groups, such as
New World Communications, Chris-Craft Industries, BHC Communications, and United Television, making it the largest owner of television stations in the United States.
FOX outbids CBS for the NFC package
Six years later, when the football contract was up for renewal again, FOX made what at the time, was a bold and aggressive move to acquire the rights. Knowing that they would likely need to bid considerably more than the incumbent networks to acquire a piece of the package, FOX bid $1.58 billion for four years of rights to the NFC. The NFC was considered the more desirable conference (as opposed to the AFC package that NBC carried at the time) due to its presence in most of the largest U.S. markets, such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. To the surprise and shock of many, in late 1993, the NFL selected the FOX bid, in the process stripping CBS of football for the first time since 1956. FOX's coverage would start in the 1994 season.
CBS apparently underestimated the value of its rights with respect to its
advertisingrevenues and to its promotional opportunities for other network programming. Indeed, FOX was still an upstart player in 1993, not yet considered on par with the "Big Three" networks-- CBS, NBCand ABC. It had already had offbeat hits such as " The Simpsons", but had no news or sports divisions, and its coverage was significantly weaker than that of its elder counterparts.
CBS personalities move to FOX
However, the vast resources of
Rupert Murdochallowed the network to grow quickly, primarily to the detriment of CBS. After bringing in David Hill from Murdoch's U.K.-based Sky Sportsto head-up the new Fox Sports division, FOX raided the CBS Sportsstaff, hiring longtime producer Ed Gorenas Hill's second-in-command, plus CBS personalities such as Pat Summerall, John Madden, James Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Matt Millen, and Dick Stockton, all of whom were prominently featured in FOX's NFL coverage.
In spring 1994, FOX's parent
News Corporationstruck an alliance with New World Communications, by now a key ownership group with several VHF CBS affiliates in NFC markets, and wary of a CBS without football. Nearly all of New World's stations converted "en masse" to FOX beginning that fall. The rights gave FOX many new viewers (and affiliates) and a platform for advertising its other shows.
A brand new era
FOX's acquisition of football was a watershed event not only for the network but for the NFL as well. Not only was it the event that placed FOX on a par with the "big three" broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) but it also ushered in an era of growth for the NFL which continues on largely to this day.
While the heavy concentration of population in NFC markets - as opposed to the smaller markets generally served by the AFC - virtually guaranteed a substantial audience, its instant success has nonetheless been remarkable given the substantial differences between FOX's coverage and the coverage provided by ABC, CBS, ESPN, TNT, and NBC up to that time.
"Same Game, New Attitude"
Fox's launch slogan was "Same Game, New Attitude." Indeed, its studio show focused more on entertainment and less on in-depth discussion of X's and O's. It also introduced bolder and innovative graphics, for instance, a continuous on-screen time-and-score graphic that Hill had originally used on Sky's
soccercoverage. And it made much greater use of the sounds in the stands and on the field thanks to parabolic microphones. These innovations were quickly adopted by rival networks and helped to drive the development of further innovations such as the virtual first-down line.
Changes for 2006
After the 2005 season, James Brown left FOX to return to
CBS Sports, where he would be the host of " The NFL Today". On August 16, 2006, after weeks of speculation, the network officially announced that Joe Buckwould take over the role. The move also changed the show from a permanent Los Angeles studio into a portable studio configuration, similar to the pregame show for " NASCAR on FOX", where analysts Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and Jimmy Johnson joined Buck at the game to which Buck is assigned as play-by-playannouncer. Curt Menefeeworked all halftime shows and all postgame shows on non-doubleheader Sundays, also from the same game site with the same analysts. Menefee hosted "FOX NFL Sunday" during the several weeks in October when Buck is not available; during that time, Buck called Major League Baseballpostseason games, including the World Series. The October 15, 22 and 29 shows were broadcast from the Los Angeles studios; the show returned to the road on November 5.
It was also announced that weather reporter Jillian Barberie (now Jillian Reynolds) would not return for the coming season, as Barberie wished to stay at home in Los Angeles with her family. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2006-08-16-hiestand-pga_x.htm USATODAY.com - PGA on the web: Something for office workers ] ] Barberie did participate in at least one of the studio shows.
During the 2006 season,
Chris Roseprovided updated highlights during the game from the Los Angeles studio as a voice talent.
November 17, 2006, a source told the " Los Angeles Times" that the final two pregame shows of 2006 would take place in the Los Angeles studios, with Buck hosting and Dick Stocktontaking Buck's place at the games alongside Troy Aikman. The source cited that declining ratings no longer justified its high production costs, including security expenses. A FOX spokesman would only say that changes were being considered. [http://www.latimes.com/sports/custom/extras/la-sp-tvcol17nov17,1,6350453.column?page=2&coll=la-sports-extras]
2006 playoffs controversies
The Fox Broadcasting Company has come under fire [ [http://parentstv.org/PTC/publications/release/2007/0116.asp Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching ] ] by the
Parents Television Councilfor displaying a fan wearing a shirt clearly saying "FUCK DA EAGLES!" in Saints colors. Three days after the broadcast, the network apologized. The Saints fan, Heather Rothstein, was contacted by "Maxim" magazine and was given a photo shoot [ [http://www.maximonline.com/girls_of_maxim/pictures_and_bio/1262/FckDaEaglesHeather.girl?src=maxim_ed F-ck Da Eagles Heather Photos, F-ck Da Eagles Heather Videos, F-ck Da Eagles Heather News on Maxim.com :: Hot Girls, Sex, Images, Pictures Babes, Chicks, Celebrity, Photo Shoot ] ] .
Also during the
2006 NFC Championshipbetween the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field, in one shot from the overhead camera angle of the crowd, three Bears fans can clearly be seen giving the middle finger to the camera, uncensored.
Digital on-screen graphics
In its debut in the 1994 season, FOX's coverage featured the first "scoring bug." A transparent white half-capsule-shaped graphic in the upper left corner of the screen displayed the score and game clock throughout the entire telecast, an NFL first.
By 1996, the graphic changed to a full-statistics panel, where down and distance, penalty, and key in-game statistics would pop in and out when necessary.
In 2001, the graphic changed from a bug to a banner spanning the top of the screen, and included a scrolling graphic displaying real-time scores of other games in progress. A simple black rectangle with a shaded transparent area spanned the top of the screen from left to right, displaying the abbreviations of both teams in white. The scores would be shown in white boxes next to the team. The center showed the game clock in white, to its right was the quarter ("1st QTR", "2nd QTR", etc), and to the right of the quarter was the play clock. The far right was the "NFL on FOX" logo. For the 2002 season, the white scoring boxes where changed to yellow. This was first seen during
Super Bowl XXXVI. This was also the last year that a team's initials would flash in its two primary colors along with percussive sound beats when that team scored (for example, when the Green Bay Packers scored a touchdown on FOX, the "GB" initials and box would flash in green and gold for a few seconds as the six points for the TD were added, then again with the extra point). This banner was used for "Major League Baseball on FOX" broadcasts through the 2004 season.
The banner was upgraded beginning with the 2003 season. Instead of a large black rectangle, the banner alternated between a large back rectangle and several small, black parallelograms, and the shaded are above it was removed. Instead of abbreviations for the teams, their logos were now used. During the
2003 NFL playoffs, the logos were reduced in size, and the team abbreviations were put back beside them. Beginning with the 2004 season, the banner returned to a large black rectangle, and electronic lettering in the team's main color was used whenever that certain team calls timeout, scores a touchdown, or a field goal. It would be in red whenever the team challenges a play.
Midway through 2004, the banner was slightly changed again. The team logos were removed, the abbreviations now took their place. This time, they were electronic lettering in the team's main color. This version of the banner was first used for
Major League Baseball on FOXpostseason broadcasts that year. When team-specific information was displayed in the banner, such as the hang time of a punt or a touchdown, the abbreviation would change back to the team's logo. Also during a touchdown or field goal, the right side of the banner would have a split flashing "light", then the words "TOUCHDOWN or FIELD GOAL" and the team's name in electronic lettering moving left. During the 2005 holiday season, for the week 15 Saturday game (TB at NE), a new white banner, resembling a chrome finish and first introduced at the start of FOX's coverage of the 2005 World Series, debuted with animated snow accumulating on top. Periodically an animated snowplow would clear the screen of snow. The following week, the new banner was adopted for all games, however without the snow animation. The team abbreviations became white letters against the team's main color. This banner was used for "Major League Baseball on FOX" broadcasts through the 2007 season.
The current, and newest iteration of the scoring banner for the 2006 season features the real-time scores as a permanent fixture on the extreme right side of the bar, while the coloring of the banner changes to the colors of the team currently possessing the ball.
During playoff games and games featured on special days or holidays (such as the
Thanksgiving Classic, AFC vs. NFC game), the scoring bar instead shows either the NFL Thanksgiving Classic logo, the NFL Divisional Playoffs/NFC Championship logo, or a special banner celebrating whichever holiday falls during that week from Fox Sports (for instance, confettiand a party horn with a traditional "Happy New Year" message).
At the beginning of the 2006 season, a virtual on-field graphic showing an arrow pointing towards the direction of advancement and the down/yardage information began to be used on all plays. This feature was then added by the "
NFL on CBS" and " NBC Sunday Night Football" broadcasts. At the same time, the down/yardage information also displays on the scoring banner, resulting in duplicate presentation of the same information. The bar has also been enhanced for HDTV and is thinner than previous versions, with little transparency. Also, the "NFL on FOX" logo is on the far left instead of the far right. On the HDTV broadcasts, the area above the banner features a translucent slanting pattern going from left-to-right across the screen. During the 2006 preseason telecasts, the quarter was indicated by illuminating four buttons (number of buttons lit indicated the quarter), but due to visibility difficulties, the quarter returned to being numerically represented for the regular season.
December 31st, 2006 San Francisco/Denver Game
There was one exception to this package for the 2006 season, as FOX had to revert to the current
Fox Sports Net(and former main Fox Sports) scoring banner and graphics package for its final regular season game of the year, San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos on December 31, 2006, due to a second blizzard in a week hitting Denver, preventing the usual amount of equipment for FOX's NFL coverage to arrive before the game. FSN Rocky Mountain(Denver's FSN network) assisted in the production of the game on short notice by providing the graphical production and other production services. Also, the "1st & Ten" graphic lines denoting the line of scrimmageand first down line were unavailable for this broadcast. This graphic was also used in Week 5 of the 2007 season in a game between the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.
In past years, "
Fox NFL Sunday" had been the ratings leader among network pregame coverage however with the start of the 2007 season, CBS has since overtaken FOX with the top rated pregame show, " The NFL Today". Much of the credit of this can be traced to the decision for the 2006-07 season by James Brown to return to CBS, and be closer to his Washington-area home. [ [http://sportscouchpotato.typepad.com/sports_couch_potato/2007/09/pregame-power-s.html Sports Couch Potato: Pregame power shift ] ]
FOX's 2008 telecast of
Super Bowl XLIIwas the most watched Super Bowl in history, with 97.5 million viewers.cite web|title=Thrilling Giants-Patriots game makes Super Bowl the second most-watched TV show ever|url=http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-superbowl-ratings&prov=ap&type=lgns|publisher=Yahoo!|accessdate =2008-02-04] It was also the second-most-watched TV program behind the 1983 "M*A*S*H" series finale. [cite news | title=Record 97.5 million watched Super Bowl | url=http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_8164645
first=David | last=Bauder | publisher=
Los Angeles Daily News| date=2008-02-04 | accessdate=2008-02-04] Coincidentally, the Phoenix area hosted Super Bowl XXX(which aired on NBC), the second most viewed Super Bowl in NFL history, with 95.1 million viewers, in 1996.
In-game commentators (past & present)
* [http://www.washtimes.com/sports/20031214-011748-2935r.htm Fox brought TV to new level]
* [http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5871590?FSO2&ATT=MA FoxSports.com NFL Sunday announces new host]
* [http://msn.foxsports.com/nflonfox FoxSports.com - NFL on Foxsports.com]
* [http://www.Whosthehost.com Who is the Host?]
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