The first week proper of the NFL Preseason kicked off last night with six games. NFL Network televised Ravens-49ers and then joined Cowboys-Chargers in progress. While the network syndicated a local telecast for the second game, they employed Ari Wolfe and Kurt Warner to call the first game from the studio.
NFL Network had announced before the game that this would happen in a press release and according to our Ken Fang, the channel has plans to do it two more times during the preseason. Still though, it was a major surprise to viewers at home to see the announcers not at the stadium. And they were not pleased with the commentary coming from the studio.
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It’s such a bizarre and random decision from NFL Network. It doesn’t seem like a cost-cutting move because they could easily syndicate local feeds for 49ers-Ravens as they did with Cowboys-Chargers. Perhaps they wanted to add a national flavor to the game, but if so, why go halfway with it in such a ramshackle way? The commentary had no rhyme or rhythm to it, the production didn’t fit what the announcers were talking about, and the whole telecast felt off. To be honest, it had a decisively local access feel to it.
Announcers calling games from monitors is nothing new and we’ve seen it plenty in international soccer. However, it’s an unusual and unnecessary step for the #1 league in the land that hurt the product on display last night. Perhaps the network was just trying to get in the spirit of the NFL preseason.