NBC Sports Network (soon to be rebranded as its acronym NBCSN) will be debuting two new studio shows in August. One a weekly fantasy football show debuting Thursday and another daily effort that just so happens to launch the same weekday Fox Sports 1 unveils much of their daily lineup. These shows will be one of the first major initiatives in NBC's partnership with Yahoo Sports and both shows will have a television and online component.
Both shows will also present a mulligan for two NBCSN hosts.
Fantasy Football Live will air on NBCSN at 6:30 PM ET on Thursday nights, replacing a replay of The Crossover. Erik Kuselias, who has hosted about everything except for Bill Dance Outdoors, gets another chance to find something that sticks within the NBC Sports family. NBC's Shaun King and Yahoo's Brad Evans and Brandon Funston will be the analysts. Melanie Collins hosts the online version that appears at Yahoo and NBCSports.com at 7 PM. It does make sense in the regard that Kuselias was a successful fantasy football host at ESPN (and he's been co-hosting the PFT show), so maybe this can finally be a niche where he has a lasting presence. At least that's what NBC is hoping.
The much more interesting development is NBC's first new effort at a daily studio show since launching The Crossover with Michelle Beadle. And wouldn't you know, Dave Briggs is back from exile to host it! SportsDash with Yahoo Sports debuts August 19th and will run from Noon-1 ET on weekdays right after The Dan Patrick Show. Briggs will co-host with a rising star at the network, Carolyn Manno. Hopefully Briggs' chemistry with Manno is better than it was with Beadle, which was umm… not so good.
The real power in SportsDash will be in bringing NBC and Yahoo's best journalists and columnists to television. Adrian Wojnarowski, Pat Forde, Dan Wetzel, and Joe Posnanski are all announced to be involved. All four would be a tremendous asset for NBCSN and it's a wonder how they haven't been involved in an expanded capacity already.
For what it's worth, SportsDash has taken over the NBC Sports Talk Twitter feed (as observed by Steve Lepore) so it appears this will be NBC's new effort at a studio show that covers all sports. If so, it's an interesting choice because of the timeslot at Noon ET. NBCSN's strategy hasn't been to directly enter the tete a tete between ESPN and Fox Sports 1, deciding to instead reach audiences that may not be served by Bristol and LA. A live news and opinion show at Noon may be a decent idea to get out of the battles at 6 PM and 11 PM ET and carve out a space to call their own. The one "counterprogramming" aspect that does take aim at FS1 is the launch date – August 19th, the first weekday of FS1.
If there is anything gimmicky and unsettling about SportsDash it's NBC's description as, "an innovative show that spotlights and advances the day’s hottest sports topics using next generation, Yahoo! Sports Trends, social media data, expert reporting, breaking news and advanced story telling." While that seems like a hodgepodge that can't possibly all fit together (Yahoo trends? social media data?) the hope is that guys like Wetzel and Wojo and Posnanski will provide the needed quality. SportsDash also has an online 15 minute version on NBC/Yahoo afterwards at 1 PM ET.
Ever since NBC and Yahoo agreed to a partnership I've been wondering when we might begin to see NBCSN benefit. Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on NBC Sports Talk periodically before its demise but beyond that the 24/7 cable network got very little out of the partnership. Looking at the competition at the noon timeslot, if NBCSN can provide a smart alternative with SportsDash it could potentially be a flagship studio show for the network.