Competitors also made attempts -- spring football leagues like XFL, USFL and all its iterations. All that would seem possible with professional football being the No. 1 attraction on TV. And in a burgeoning world of endless content, why not?
But building big brand team identities and marketing personalities can be a difficult task when starting from scratch.
The New York Times wrote a recent story about the NFL looking to put a spin on current proceedings. One major success story: A different kind of on-air, off-the-cuff real-time game analysis from former NFLers, top quarterbacks and brothers: Peyton and Eli Manning.
The Mannings' alternate version of a “Monday Night Football” telecast on ESPN2 is more like a talk show with guests who are watching football games. Hard not to tune in when both popular Mannings each led teams to two Super Bowl victories each.
There is a lot of banter, stories and even some on-air noshing. The show has had popular NFL guests -- active and retired -- like Russell Wilson, Travis Kelce, Ray Lewis, Brett Fauve and Rob Gronkowski. Last Monday night, it more doubled to 1.8 million viewers from 800,000 the week before.
Peyton can be found putting on a football helmet while demonstrating and explaining stuff. Other content includes Eli telling a story about meeting Fauve at a bar when he was 17.
Last year, CBS’ network started up a Nickelodeon version of an NFL wildcard playoff game -- kind of a “SpongeBob, Square Pants” version. Touchdowns come with an animated slime overlay. The network will do it again this year.
This comes in the middle of the sometimes delicate
approach of expanding the “franchise” of top TV content. Think about all those iterations of “NCIS” on CBS; NBC “Law & Order” editions, as well as
“Chicago Med,” Chicago Fire” and "Chicago PD."
Of course, in the unscripted world, on cable network Bravo, we might have one too many “Real Housewives” editions
The answer could be: Give consumers something they are already familiar with. But don’t go too far. CBS just ended “NCIS: New Orleans' ' last season. And then it started up “NCIS: Hawai’i” this year.
Everyone wants a new popular version of what the average TV viewer already enjoys.