Denver, CBS Big Winners in Manning Sweepstakes
Sure, Denver Broncos fans are thrilled with news that arguably the greatest quarterback of all time is set to join their team this fall. No doubt, there’s also been some serious whooping it up at CBS, where the coming Peyton Manning signing is momentous.
At once, Manning to Denver allows CBS to keep a big star and land a major free agent. As the owner of the rights to the AFC, the network has carried loads of his highly rated Indianapolis Colts games over the years – the square-offs with New England’s Tom Brady, the huge playoff games.
Now, Manning-driven revenues should only ramp up. Manning’s comeback after a year off with neck problems looks to be one – if not the -- most compelling stories of the coming NFL season. And, it will play out mostly each Sunday on CBS.
Manning’s move means he’s staying in the AFC. With his brother Eli playing in the NFC, it always seemed unlikely he would move there (and give Fox a boost) -- Peyton wants to play Eli in a Super Bowl – but the NFC's San Francisco reportedly was a finalist in his decision-making.
Check out Denver’s schedule next year and there are at least three games CBS might set some records with, presuming the NFL doesn’t gift them to ESPN or NBC. Denver will visit New England and Pittsburgh and host Baltimore.
With Denver in the AFC West, CBS should also gain from some of Manning's games played at a later starting time than was the case in Indianapolis.
Of course, the ratings and revenues are predicated on Manning returning to his old, scintillating form, right?
Not necessarily. If he is injured and can’t play, yes, but if he struggles, that storyline should prove to be a draw.
(Though unlikely, CBS might even get lucky if Denver keeps Tim Tebow as a back-up. Should he replace an injured Manning, that would generate a rush of interest whether he can come off the bench and engineer some seemingly divine magic again.)
With Manning's Denver move, CBS also got a nice free-agent pick up, as it were -- without a huge contract. CBS owns KCNC-TV in Denver, which will carry the CBS Manning games in the Broncos' home market. (Not that Denver fans don't watch their team with big numbers, but Manning should ensure the station gets strong ratings over the next three years in the country’s 17th-largest market.)
Landmark Enterprises, which owns the CBS station in Nashville, stood to prosper if Manning opted to sign with the Tennessee Titans. LIN TV, which owns the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, has rolled in the deep with Manning's games for more than decade, and will now have to hope Manning’s replacement, Andrew Luck, proves to be a Hall of Famer, too.
Had Manning signed with San Francisco, CBS-owned KPIX-TV there would have been helped. But, that of course would have meant CBS would have lost all those ratings nationally.
Now, the network can wait for the NFL schedule to come out and hope Manning’s exceedingly hyped debut comes its way. Even if it misses out, Manning’s Mile High move should be a season-long win. And, who knows, it might culminate with a Peyton vs. Eli Super Bowl on CBS.