Launching NFL AM a Daunting but Exciting Challenge for NFL Network

NFL AM set to launch on NFL Network July 30th (Photo Courtesy: NFL AM Twitter Account)

Starting July 30th the NFL Network will graciously toss aside morning re-runs of Total Access in favor of NFL AM, a fresh 4-hour morning show airing from 6am – 10 EST and re-airing from 7am-11 PST.

Welcome news for early rising sports fans that just can’t handle ESPN’s First Take.

Launching a morning show is harder than it seems, especially one that is based on the west coast (Culver City, CA), trying to attract an east coast audience.

Approximately 48% of the US population is based on the eastern time zone and another 29% in the central so catering to the east coast population hub isn’t bias, it’s smart business. From a production standpoint, this creates a few difficulties:

  1. Production schedule runs from 11:30pm-7:30am PST
  2. Difficulty booking live guests to represent west coast news/events
  3. Developing fresh content while everyone else is asleep

Who in the world can work from 11:30pm to 7:30am?

The production schedule presents a big obstacle on many levels, hiring and retaining staff key amongst them. To create a 4-hour show demands a creative, and pretty large, production staff. Finding talented people to work that tough of a schedule can be a difficult task, but early signs point to this being a strength of NFL AM.

The Network has announced Fox Sports and Tennis Channel veteran Brian Webber as the “quarterback” of NFL AM show, and Nicole Zaloumis, formerly of Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet New England, will act as co-host. Former NFL cornerback Eric Davis joins the crew along with NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche and columnist Mark Kriegel.

Nicole Zaloumis will join the NFL AM crew as co-host alongside Brian Webber (Photo Courtesy:

Davis, Wyche and Kriegel will bring insight, analysis and daily face-offs in debate style confronts. Let’s just hope they don’t see Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless as role models.

There is just as much talent and enthusiasm behind the scenes, including broadcasting veterans Todd Mossburg, Michael Berger and Adam K. Watson.

I only lasted about a year working a 4am-noon shift early in my sports broadcasting career, here’s hoping this talented group can manage the life challenge of working overnights.

Booking Live Guests

How many stories have we heard about coaches sleeping on their office couches throughout the season? or leaving work at midnight only to return at 4am? Well, if NFL AM can convince them to step in front of a camera that early, problem solved!

In truth, I can’t imagine there being many player interviews (or coaches for that matter) which begs the question…who cares?

Am I the only one who feels like flipping the channel during player and coach interviews? They personify cliched boredom. It’s as if the team PR department is in their ear repeating the mantra “say nothing, add nothing”. Here’s one vote for NFL AM to break the routine and skip the player and coach interviews all together

Reporters, insiders and dare I say bloggers will get up early to be on-air because they are helping grow their personal brand. If NFL AM focuses on the guys and gals on the local beat who have something fresh and relevant to add, they’ll have better, more compelling content…and have to deal with less grumpy athletes.

Creating Fresh Content When Everyone Else is Asleep

In a recent interview with USA Today, NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger addressed the programming issue, “It’s mind-boggling how much content is out there. How can you fill up four hours dedicated to the NFL every morning? It’s surprisingly easier that it sounds.”

The success bar is actually set relatively low. NFL AM will replace re-runs of NFL Total Access, which by 6am is more stale than a grocery store donut. Weinberger explains that there’ll be “heavy debate,” and they will address news from outside the NFL but ”there’ll always be an effort to bring it back or compare it to the NFL.”

Who do you think has the tougher athletes, the NHL or NFL? (Photo Courtesy: Associated Press)

For example, while addressing the Stanley Cup they might tie it into the NFL by comparing the toughest athletes in each sport.

Tell the story of Ronnie Lott’s pinky and Ian Laperriere multiple pucks to the face and let the audience vote on who is tougher. Nice segment.

The NFL is king of the Sports TV world and NFL Network is smart to develop more live studio programming, just don’t think for a second that it’ll be easy.

If you’re based on the west coast and 3am is a little too early for your NFL fix, don’t fret, NFL AM will re-air from 7am-11am PST.

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Article by Brian Clapp

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3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Michael Darcy says:

    You spelled her name wrong…it’s Nicole not Nichole. Who edits these? If you fired that guy…I am available to take his place.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks for pointing out the typo Michael – my wife spells her name Nichole, so I’m preconditioned to typing it that way. It’s been fixed.

  2. […] Clapp at Sports TV Jobs wonders how NFL Network’s new morning show can sustain fresh content over a four hour period every […]

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