There’s a reason Monday Night Football is one of the longest running series in prime time television today, and it’s not just because it’s usually a salivating NFL match up (though that certainly doesn’t hurt anything).
The broadcast is good. Really good. And it’s been that way for a long time. So, while you’re not going to have the resources or manpower to turn your broadcast into a MNF-quality production, it’s still a good place to go when you want to get some ideas to improve your own broadcast. Let’s take a look at some of the things MNF does well, and some areas on which they could improve, to help better our own broadcasts.
One thing the brand has always been associated with is legendary commentators. From the beginning MNF has had legendary play-by-play announcers and larger-than-life color personalities. Of course, the brand hasn’t been without a few missteps in this area (try as we might we still can’t forget the Dennis Miller experiment), but the current commentary team with Mike Tirico calling the play-by-play along with Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski doing analysis is a strong group.
There’s plenty for broadcasters to learn from this team, but one area in which Tirico excels is in letting his color guys shine. More often than not a three-man booth is a little crowded, and that’s still the case at times, but Tirico plays it to its strengths by setting up opportunities for Gruden and Jaws, who clearly know their NFL, to voice their opinions and sometimes get into mini-debates without taking too much away from the game. When working with a color commentator, it’s important to know their strengths and figure out how to utilize them. Giving them the right lead-in can make the difference between a good broadcast and a fantastic one. Again, the three-man booth isn’t always a good thing, and you probably don’t need more than two commentators for any given event.
Another element of MNF that has been top-notch for many years is the production. Again, this is in large parts because of the massive amount of resources ESPN (and ABC before that) devote to the show, but there’s still an opportunity to take something from this element of the broadcast. While transposing graphics onto the field such as the down and distance and the now-ubiquitous yellow first down line might not be an option, you can take some cues from ESPN’s scoreboard. The scoreboard does take up a lot of screen real estate, but most viewers won’t mind since it manages to be both unobtrusive and visually appeasing. We’ve seen many of our clients experimenting with different scoreboards and some of the best looking are those that imitate MNF, staying on the bottom of the screen to avoid interfering with any of the on-screen action.
And there’s this:
Even if you can’t get Hank Williams Jr., it might be worth exploring making some sort of intro. Many of our clients have some intros that, similar to MNF, pump up the viewer and get them excited about the impending broadcast. These can be kind of a bear to produce, but once you get it down it’s something that always has your broadcast looking classy.
Those are a few suggestions drawn from Monday Night Football. There are plenty more to glean from MNF and other professional-level broadcasts. Most in this industry are working in sports because of the passion for the games. Next time you sit down and watch a game as a neutral, try and think of your own product and what ideas you can take from their broadcasts and apply to their own. It’s one of the best ways to better your product.