Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for EA Sports Bowl at Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest
Author’s Note: This is a cynical, slightly-tongue-in-cheek “take” on a recent announcement about an “innovative” new way to watch Monday Night Football this year – and for (at least) two more years after this.
In a former life (i.e. pre-COVID), I ran an innovation program for a pretty well-known company – which is my way of saying that innovation fascinates me.
So it was with great interest that I read a press release from the production company of a certain (over-exposed) NFL legend when it found its way across my desk because it contained the word “innovation.”
Now, before I continue, let me share what I consider to be the “accepted definition” for the word innovation.
From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
a new idea, method, or device
the introduction of something new
And now let me tie that definition to the innovation program that I used to run.
Changing the shape of a game controller is not innovation
Altering the button layout on a game controller is (say it with me) not innovation
Coming up with a completely new way to play a video game (ex. the Nintendo Wii) … that IS innovation
Right about now, a certain Commenter that I like sparring with is thinking “semantics.” And to a certain extent, that Commenter is correct.
What part of this press release involves an actual “innovation”?
For those that don’t want to click on the link or read the entire release, here are the relevant details:
Starting this season, there will be an “alternate” viewing option for Monday Night Football – i.e. a second league-approved broadcast (on ESPN2).
The MNF broadcast we all “know and love” will still be a thing and will feature all of our favorite people (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters, and John Parry).
The alternate broadcast will feature Peyton Manning and his brother Eli.
The Manning version of MNF will have guest hosts, celebrities, and whatever else they (the league, ESPN, the Walt Disney Company, Omaha Productions, corporate sponsors, et al) think will appeal to millennials get people to tune in.
Oh, and may favorite line in the press release:
Fans will never miss any of the action, as a multi-box viewing experience will ensure the game is always visible.
That sounds to me like picture-in-picture which has been around forever (and was hardly ever used by anyone I’ve ever known).
So, to recap and summarize this “innovation” from my decidedly cynical perspective …
The Manning brothers will be hosting a variety show that uses Monday Night Football AS A BACKDROP to try to (a) get us to tune in, and (b) maybe somehow keep us entertained.
Admittedly, I actually am sort of intrigued by this idea.
But I don’t think it’s innovative.
ESPN, Disney, the NFL, and the Manning brothers are launching a new show. Yay!
Networks do this all the time.
Of course, they don’t usually schedule their own broadcasts against their own broadcasts … so maybe that’s the innovative part.
I don’t know.
I do have some suggestions though.
I mean, I know the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak … or, to use football terminology, the quarterback is already out of the pocket … but if the league is looking for a way to expand their viewing audience (which is clearly the underlying purpose here) …
I have some ideas.
One. Stick with the “traditional” Monday Night Football broadcast on Monday – and only the traditional broadcast on Monday … except maybe consider upgrading the “personalities” in the broadcast booth.
Two. Consider running this “alternate” version on, oh, I don’t know, Tuesday night … sort of like a re-broadcast but a super cool one.
Three. Have “people” who were involved in the game “drop in unexpectedly” to share their thoughts about a specific play, series, situation, decision … penalty call.
For example …
“Tell me, Pete, why did you decide to punt on 4th down from the opponent’s 40-yard line when your offense had been marching up and down the field all night?”
“C’mon D.K., you can tell us, what did you say to Darius Slay that got him so fired up?”
Four. Cross promote to increase audience share.
For example …
On the MNF broadcast, have Brian Griese say something like: “But that’s just my opinion; the Manning brothers may see it differently,” and then have Steve Levy say, “Tune in tomorrow night to find out.”
On the Manning Bros. MNF Variety Show, have one of the brothers say something like: “This game was out of reach in the third quarter so let’s talk about next week’s game for the next 45 minutes,” and then bring out both of the quarterbacks from next Monday’s game to talk about their upcoming matchup.
Five. REFEREE DUNK TANK.
Every week at the end of the MNF broadcast, there can be 5 “bad call” nominees and fans can pay a fee to “vote” for the worst one and then the “winner” can be announced on the Manning Bros. MNF Variety Show.
The referee that made the “winning” call … and/or the one that upheld the call … and/or the entire officiating crew …. comes out – in uniform – and the Manning brothers take turns tossing footballs at a target until …
I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’d tune in for that!