If you’re looking for an alternative to ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage (and why wouldn’t you with Chris Berman again hogging the main stage) and don’t have access to NFL Network, you may want to check out a mysterious and intriguing venture by several top-flight NFL analysts. Very rarely do top analysts or sports personalities from different networks come together, but some of the biggest names in NFL broadcasting are doing just that. Analysts from each of the major boradcast networks – Cris Collinsworth (NBC), Howie Long (Fox), Boomer Esiason (CBS), and Phil Simms (CBS) are all coming together for an NFL Draft show. The only trick is that it is entirely and exclusively online. Here’s the details from USA Today…
“Despite being prominent faces on different TV networks, Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esiason, Howie Long and Phil Simms will appear together on a live NFL draft preview show that won’t be on any TV network.
The idea: Market their brand names in cyberspace.
Their online-only draft show, to be formally announced Wednesday and air from a New York theater April 26, is meant to help announcers in a venture called The Expert Network — which also includes Nick Faldo and Cal Ripken Jr. — launch their own website (txnsports.com) and do more online shows.”
Could this be a new direction for how we consume sports? TXNSports is launching with Big Lead Sports as a place where many big name sports media personalities will appear. Frank Vuono, who is heading up the project, told Technorati, “we do anticipate expanding our TXN membership to provide year-round content… During Olympic years we are sure we will want expert analysis of that great sporting event.”
It seems as if these analysts are figuring out that their name power, recognition, and analysis need not be confined to the networks that are paying them. With the vast universe of online content, these personalities can continue to further their own brand name and appeal through this venture (and cash in to some extent I’m sure) and also provide something new to sports fans. Cris Collinsworth for one thinks it could be the future of sports media…
“With the site, you send it all out into the vapor somewhere. So it will be kind of fun to sit around with guys I know and have a studio audience. We’re all trying to figure out the next step in sports media and entertainment. Maybe this is it.”
I don’t think this new site will become the next ESPN or Deadspin, but if all the top analysts are coming together in one place, I can’t help but think it would be a preferable destination for sports fans. While it’s not going to immediately dominate sports on the internet, it will be very interesting to observe moving forward.