In a busy weekend in sports, one event stood out as the big story, the one that got my readers and I excited, must see TV, the one event that moved the dial: I am of course referring to the meaningless Hall of Fame game, the start of the NFL preseason. The NFL is back.
I have been relegated to watching baseball games and stale sitcoms since David Stern took any chance the Suns had of maintaining home court against the Spurs, and right now I would watch a professional football game between the residents of two retirement communities right now over watching another San Francisco Giants game or Family Guy. But I did learn one lesson about baseball this summer: the difference in production value of broadcasts varies greatly from team to team. Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers games are broadcast in HD, feature sideline reporters who can report on injuries, and bring legitimate stars into the booth: in the last month new Celtics Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have sat in the NESN booth for an inning or two a piece.
Watching the Redskins/Ravens scrimmage Saturday on MASN, I wasn't blown away in terms of production value, but I wasn't disappointed either. I've watched intrasquad scrimmages of Green Bay Packers, the NFL team in the smallest market with the poorest ownership, and it was similarly produced. NFL preseason games are normally shown on the NFL network with the broadcast team of one side in the first half, and the opposing team's broadcast in the second. I defy viewers to notice a difference in production value.
In MLB, if you're a fan of the Royals, or Marlins, or Pirates, all of whom have won the World Series, in terms of television and radio coverage it feels like the minor leagues when compared to the Yankees or Red Sox. Of course, those teams' payrolls are between 10%-25% of the payrolls of the Yankees and Red Sox. In the NFL, Saints or Packers broadcasts are as professional as Giants or Jets broadcasts. For the most part, every NFL teams' payroll is approximately the same. This is a big reason why fans of teams in every market can be excited about the regular season (because their teams have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl) and the offseason. (because their teams have a chance to sign marquee free agents)