(L-R) ESPN NFL Analyst Bill Parcells, Lydelle King and Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman
The day the NFL officially kicks off its 2011 season, we are proud to announce a new eight-year extension that will keep Monday Night Football on ESPN through 2021. (Read more about it here)
And it’s more than just MNF – much more! The new deal includes 500 new hours of NFL programming on ESPN each year. Beginning today NFL Live (4 p.m., ESPN) will expand to an hour each day, and starting this weekend Sunday NFL Countdown will expand to three hours, beginning at 10 a.m. ET. ESPN will also launch two news shows next week, NFL 32 and NFL Kickoff, giving ESPN even more NFL than ever before.
To learn more about the new programs and ESPN’s plans for the NFL season, Front Row caught up with Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman, who oversees all of ESPN’s NFL studio shows.
FR: What do you hope to accomplish with the new NFL programming?
Markman: NFL has always been king here and to be able to have all of these shows now, I just think we can serve the viewer that much more. With the analysis, opinion, being more interactive with viewers, when you put on ESPN it won’t take long for you to be watching great NFL content that really takes you inside the game
FR: With all of the new programs, how difficult is it to plan and schedule everything?
Markman: We spent this offseason adding a few new NFL analysts, including Bill Parcells, Jerry Rice, Eric Mangini, Hugh Douglas and Damien Woody. We anticipated that if we could expand our programming, we would need more people here. It’s important that there are different perspectives on stories throughout the day from different people. These guys are going to work long days, they’re going to be on multiple shows, they’re going to contribute to a lot of different properties here. But it’s good. We have the best guys in the business, so they should be on a lot of stuff.
FR: Can you discuss each of the various new NFL shows this year?
Markman: We started Audibles (Thursdays at 7 p.m., ESPN) last year. We felt it would have a different feeling than our other NFL shows because it’s the ultimate interactive show where the viewers decide what topics we talk about. Via Twitter and Facebook, you can write into the show and actually change the way it’s being produced. We found that to be a successful concept. We decided to do without a host – to put four analysts out there and really make the viewers the host of the show. We’re excited to expand it to every Thursday night this year and to add some new people into the mix. Our analysts love interacting with the viewers, and the questions they get are fun and different.
The extra half hour of NFL Live (weekdays at 4 p.m., ESPN) to me is a no brainer, it’s great. There is so much to talk about on a daily basis in this league that we’ve found the last few years a half hour just isn’t enough to accomplish everything. It gives our analysts even more of a chance to talk about the topics of the day, to have more guests, and to do more features.
The same idea really applies to Sunday NFL Countdown (Sundays at 10 a.m., ESPN) as NFL Live. I don’t know that you can ever do enough on a Sunday morning to get people ready for a game. You’re on the east coast, it’s 10 a.m., let’s go! It’s football! I know our guys are excited about doing another hour and being able to be more comprehensive than we were before. Maybe that means talking about some games we might have brushed aside in the past and giving them a little more time. Having Bill Parcells on the show is a natural fit to also open the show up a little more. Merril Hoge is going to be a bigger part of that show, and so is Suzy Kolber, whom we are thrilled to have along with Chris Berman and our entire returning team of analysts, insiders and reporters. We’ve got the people ready to go to make that a great watch.
We’ve basically decided that NFL Kickoff (Fridays at 7 p.m., ESPN) is where we start really being in-depth on each Sunday game. That’s when the weekend starts for us. The key to that show is every team is going to get mentioned. If you’re a fan, and you’re looking forward to your game on Sunday, I promise you that every game is going to be mentioned in NFL Kickoff. It’s just the ultimate tidbits you need to get ready for the Sunday games. Chris Berman is actually going to host the first two episodes and then Trey Wingo is going to take over as the host after that. Mark Schlereth will probably be on the show every week and then it will be a rotation for the other spot from our deep group of analysts.
NFL 32 (weekdays at 6 p.m., ESPN2) is another new show. It will be hosted by Chris Mortensen and Suzy Kolber with a rotation of analysts. It will be a little bit more casual and conversational, maybe even a little bit of a radio feel to it, where we dig into the topics of the day on the NFL. We want the show to feel unscripted. Most shows have a rundown of what we’re going to do, but this show really doesn’t have one. Social media will be a big aspect of the show. We want to be interactive with our viewers, with players in the league, with team executives, league officials, everybody’s going to have a voice in NFL 32.