December 14, 2018

The Great Heist: How Fox Paid for and Changed Football Forever: A long, but excellent oral history from Bryan Curtis at The Ringer on how Fox went big for the NFL and ended up becoming the fourth major broadcast network in the process. Lots of fun nuggets in there, including the facts that (1) at the time John Madden signed with Fox for the 1994 NFL season, he was paid more annually than the highest paid NFL player, and (2) at the time it was introduced, people hated the "Fox Box" (the box containing the running clock and score at the top corner of the screen).

posted by holden to football at 02:08 PM - 5 comments

I never hated that Fox Box. I thought it was great when I would flip over to a game just to see a score and I never really felt that it got in the way of my view of the game

posted by NoMich at 02:29 PM on December 14

An interesting point made is that TV executives at rival networks hated the idea of the Fox Box the most and thought it was a horrible thing for the networks because it would drive viewers away if the game was a blowout. Basically better to keep channel flippers in the dark as to score than to have them move on (which ignored the fact that disinterested viewers would probably flip before getting to commercials in any event as the networks already showed the score as the game cut to commercial).

posted by holden at 02:53 PM on December 14

This story is great. I'm still working my way through it.

Fox getting the NFL wasn't even in the realm of the possible when it happened. The network was completely small time. I was a viewer of shows like The Simpsons, Tracey Ullman Show, Duet and The X-Files, but I thought it would never catch the other broadcast networks. The NFL changed that.

posted by rcade at 11:34 PM on December 14

I remember it took Fox something like 6 years to actually have prime-time first-run programming on all seven days of the week. I also remember only being able to pick up the station on the UHF channels (Buffalo WUTV, channel 29) for a year or two before we got full cable at my house in Toronto.

posted by grum@work at 12:21 AM on December 15

I'm also enjoying working my way through it, and things were going great until they dragged Will McDonough's name into it, even if just momentarily.

Growing up in a household with a character like that, Sean McDonough figured out early on that the best way to survive was to perfect the art of becoming entirely unnoticeable. A skill that he continues to refine to this day.

posted by beaverboard at 08:36 AM on December 15

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