Hiatus is a scary word in this business. Although in a technical sense it means a pause or gap in a series, it is often perceived that a show on hiatus is a show that is in trouble.
That’s why it’s interesting that, according to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily, NFL Network’s live four-hour morning show will begin a hiatus on May 11, with no firm date for a return.
Executives tell Ourand that they’re shutting down “NFL AM” for the purposes of performance reviews and potential tweaks and that the plan is to relaunch during the preseason, but this is the first time they’ve felt the need to do that since the show premiered back in July of 2012. That includes a reboot with major talent changes before last season.
From a media standpoint, whatever the NFL touches usually turns to gold, but going live for four hours every weekday is quite a commitment. I was surprised when NFLN decided to launch such an ambitious endeavor three years ago and, frankly, didn’t expect it to last as long as it has.
On the surface, “Total Access,” which runs against SportsCenter in the evenings, has a better chance of competing with ESPN and Fox Sports 1 because programs in that hour aren’t highlights-based. But in the morning, people want their highlights. And aside from less than half of the Mondays on the calendar, there aren’t a lot of morning highlights to show on “NFL AM.”
But obviously they were still drawing enough of an audience to keep the lights on from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. PT five days a week at NFLN’s Culver City, Calif., studio, while also paying a wide variety of hosts and analysts, which again goes to show how powerful professional football is.
But that still might not be sustainable year-round, which explains why they’re taking a break.