NBC Sports Network continues its long and difficult climb of building a relevant national sports network. Instead of making headline-grabbing acquisitions and big splashes, NBC has taken the tact of slowly adding new shows and features to its network. Aside from plucking Michelle Beadle from ESPN, it's difficult to point to a truly landscape-altering move. However, the addition of NFL Films programming, documentaries, teaming with Sports Illustrated, MLS, and the CFL are building a network foundation one slow step at a time.
Another brick in the wall for NBCSN is something that has been part of the all-sports network since the beginnings at ESPN, a dedicated highlights show. However, NBC will be doing it a little differently…
NBC announced today plans for a morning highlights show called "The Lights" that will air from 7 AM – 9 AM ET each weekday morning premiering August 13th. The show will air in repeated 20 minute blocks and feature only highlights, graphics, and voiceovers to show the previous night's action with no anchor or studio set. More from NBC…
"Designed to serve the busy morning schedule of sports fans, The ‘Lights will be produced as a 20-minute sports report, and will not feature an on-camera anchor or set. The show will use a unique presentation of simultaneous video clips, graphics and voiceovers to deliver the scores and information. The ‘Lights will repeat every 20 minutes, from 7-9 a.m. ET, and will be updated as necessary.
“We are very excited to launch NBC Sports Network’s new programming schedule,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “The ‘Lights will serve as a catalyst for our new programming lineup, and will quickly provide sports fans all of the scores and highlights they crave as they start their day.”
A very intriguing concept, you have to admit. Many criticisms of SportsCenter in recent years have centered around an abandonment of highlights in favor of more analysis, debates, interviews, and what amounts to postgame shows in the evening after an NBA or NFL game. SportsCenter has been transformed in recent years (with many changes including live morning SportsCenters a welcome change), but it's not like the ESPN conglomerate has abandoned highlights altogether. ESPNEWS still offers the Highlight Express for those that want their highlights the old-fashioned way.
It's clear NBC is offering viewers a morning alternative to SportsCenter by doing something different, which is the wise and necessary move. NBCSN can't beat ESPN at their own game, so a highlights/morning recap show has to be done in a different way. In order to accomplish that, the network is going back in time to an old-school formula. This streamlined version ideally will cut all the riff raff away that sports fans run away from and deliver pure, unadulterated scores and highlights. The 20 minute runtime may throw fans for a loop initially, but I can see this concept eventually finding an audience because it meets a need for some sports fans that want just their highlights and scores.