Before any big, highly anticipated matchup in any sport, fans tune in one, sometimes two hours before, for the show before the show.
The pregame show is a mainstay in sports and is extremely vital to the overall product we see on the television screen.
Every sports fan has their favorite pregame show that they make sure they watch before their favorite sport. Pregame shows set the mood for the game and give fans just the fix that they need in order to be prepared to watch the game at a high level.
Whether you need the instant highlights from other games in that sport, key, exclusive interviews from the players and coaches from your favorite team’s, amazing shots and scenery from the game that’s about to be broadcast, or in-depth analysis of each team’s strength and weaknesses; pre game shows have it all.
The use of the pregame show has been extended to every sports network in the world, from the biggest to the smallest. It all started with the NFL, where the networks that would broadcast the NFL games created and aired the first pregame shows in 1964. CBS was the pioneer in this movement, airing a 15 minute broadcast that featured player/coach interviews and news around the league right before the game.
Eventually, the shows moved to 30 minutes by 1967 and in 1976, a Super Bowl pregame show was aired for the first time that was 90 minutes.
By 1984, the show became a two-hour long broadcast that featured multiple analysts and a host along with many producers and directors behind the scenes making it go. This format is what we currently see in sports today.
Nowadays, networks like ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC, and TNT each have pregame shows preceding their major sports broadcasts.
The most popular network among these, specifically geared toward sports, is ESPN who broadcasts every major sport. Key mainstays like College Gameday, NBA Countdown, NFL Countdown, and Baseball Tonight are main pregame shows for the network.
With ESPN being the leading sports network, all of these shows receive good ratings on a daily basis as many fans will tune into ESPN to get their overall sports fix where the other networks give you specific sports to watch.
Fox has been on a great stretch lately with the World Series going seven games and Game Seven receiving a TV rating of 25. They are most known, in the sports realm, for their NFL coverage of NFC games. Their pregame show “Fox NFL Today,” featuring Michael Strahan, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, and host Curt Menefee, has usually produced great ratings, but with the Election just coming to an end Tuesday night, the ratings have suffered a little. Despite that, the show has a good mix of entertainment and sports knowledge, with Bradshaw providing most of the humor and Long being the one to provide the most analysis out of the crew. Overall, a well-rounded show that will get you set for the one or two games that Fox will showcase on Sundays.
NBC has the NFL’s Sunday Night Football slot preceded by their pregame show “Football Night in America” featuring Rodney Harrison, Tony Dungy, and host Dan Patrick. This show is more about the analysis than the entertainment value with Harrison being a former player and Dungy being a former coach. The one hour and 15 minute format allows for more time to thoroughly study each game that day, which best suits the cast as neither Harrison or Dungy show much excitement and extra emotion during the broadcast. For the NFL fan who craves that in-depth conversation about why each team won or lost, this would be the show for you.
As far as basketball coverage is concerned, TNT’s Emmy-winning “Inside the NBA” takes the cake as the most popular. With a star-studded cast of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and host Ernie Johnson, TNT’s Thursday night broadcasts still remain the most anticipated night of the week for NBA fans. The show pans more on the humorous side than the analytical side due to the big personalities of O’Neal and Barkley, who were two of the most polarizing personalities in NBA history. Between the hilarious riffs and jabs traded between O’Neal and Barkley, Smith plays the intricate role of providing most of the analysis while also adding onto the humor that really takes the show by storm. Ernie Johnson is the perfect moderator who allows there to be just the right mix of humor while also making sure that the games are talked about and analyzed properly. For basketball fans, those looking for their dose of laughter along with a mix of good analysis occasionally, “Inside the NBA” is your show.
No matter network or channel you turn to, sports are everywhere throughout the week. Whether you need more analysis and less entertainment, or if you’re the sports junkie who needs you in-depth take on what to look for in each matchup, there’s a pregame show that fits your needs.
Without pregame shows, the actual games wouldn’t be done their justice. Pregame shows are the perfect appetizer for all of the sports that we love.
What pregame show do you consistently watch? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.