TV Party Tonight Mailbag #2: Fox Sports 1, NFL Network, ESPN

Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Plus, thoughts on 'Olbermann' rubbing off some of 'The Daily Show's' magic.

The TV mailbag was a lot of fun the first time around. And, since everyone seems to want to know more about this stuff, we can make it a semi-regular feature.

Here are your questions and the best I can do as far as answers.

@Espo asks: Does Olbermann have the potential to become a Daily Show-type feel for sports?

It was something brought up by ESPN President John Skipper during his media session on Wednesday, but I think it's a lofty goal. What Keith Olbermann did for politics, though was different from what Jon Stewart does for politics: Olbermann isn't a traditional comedian and he fits more of the anchor/pundit role.

I can't imagine Olbermann becoming a set-up/punchline kind of comedy show, but Olbermann himself is very witty and an excellent writer. The show is apparently reliant on a monologue early on, probably something that will resemble Keith's "special comments" on the Countdown show. Overall, I don't really know what to expect from Keith on Monday, but I think calling his show 'The Daily Show for sports' is doing a disservice to all involved.

@TMM75 asks: Most likely to happen in 10 years: Fox passes ESPN, NBCSN passes Fox, or CBSSN passes NBCSN? Not just talking distribution.

That's an interesting question. On Tuesday, I visited CBS in New York, where Sean McManus -- Executive Producer of CBS Sports -- told me that CBS Sports Network is a money maker for the company. He said that at some point in the future, they will be looking at acquiring more expensive properties. That kind of counts CBSSN out, though, because very few of those properties are available in the immediate future.

I'd bet more on NBCSN and Fox playing a back-and-forth for the number two spot. Fox has better studio programming, but NBCSN might be coming close in terms of better game programming with the Premier League. I still think NBCSN might be a property away from being a real threat to stay No. 2.

@JeffDeacs asks: I know it's early, but will FS1 be hiring more analysts to cover their own specific sports? Roddick talking MLB is just weird...

Let's start this off by echoing the words of Awful Announcing on the Fox panel: the problem isn't necessarily that Andy Roddick, Donovan McNabb and Gary Payton are debating baseball. Nobody asks Mike Golic what business he has talking basketball. I think the problem is that Fox would like to have it both ways. They want the jocularity and they want the actual, deep analysis. That's why Gabe Kapler is there and presumably why Chris Chelios and Olympic athletes will be showing up when they're in-season.

You can have the fun stuff and the deep analysis on a show like Fox Football Daily because, in the end, Randy Moss is there to talk about football. Nobody is parachuting in from any other sport. The Fox Sports Live panel needs to decide a bunch of things, but chief among them is whether or not they want to be a serious discussion or sports talk radio. Because really, probably fewer than 25 percent of the people on sports radio actually have in-depth knowledge of every sport.

I'm going to tie this in to the next question...

@jh123416 asks: Any idea what FS1 is going to do with a morning TV show?

I really think that Fox Sports Live panel belongs in the morning ... or whatever timeslot Skip and Stephen A. are in so they can be the more fun and less over-indulgent version of First Take. Donovan McNabb and Ephraim Salaam certainly have more authority on football than those two clowns do on a Monday morning. Ditto Gary Payton on basketball. The panel still feels like it's been abducted from a different timeslot so maybe they should move that, or the even more morning show-esque Crowd Goes Wild, to mornings.

@myoder44 asks: Who's been the biggest surprises and disappointments at Fox Sports 1 so far?

It's only been a few days, but -- besides the obvious one that everyone's already mentioned (Randy Moss) -- I've been surprised at the bench Fox Sports 1 has built as far as reporting. From Bill Reiter's 1-on-1 with LeBron to having a reporter and a legal analyst at the Aaron Hernandez indictment to  anchors like Julie Stewart-Binks, whom I knew nothing about. That, and how likable most of the Crowd Goes Wild cast is -- I'm surprised at the show's inability to be the train wreck I predicted.

Disappointments? The panel on Fox Sports Live, for sure. I was hoping against hope that they would somehow gel and be enjoyable. It just hasn't been meant to be so far. That, and maybe Regis' lack of engagement with his own show. I really don't think Reege is all that into talking sports beyond the Yankees and Notre Dame. That's totally fine, a lot of people are like that, but none of them have sports shows.

@jessespector asks: How much time do you spend watching TV in an average day?

@ScottyBroco asks: How much TV do you watch per day?

Less than you'd think, more than I'm happy with admitting. The fact is, until Fox Sports 1 debuted, I largely stayed away from TV until whatever game I wanted to watch was on. I abhor most television that airs before 7 p.m. so I usually just spend my days writing or working on a project. After games, I'll spend time catching up on DVR'd primetime shows and maybe a SportsCenter or two.

For the next few weeks, that's going to have to change. I've made it an effort to watch one of Fox's afternoon shows and either an hour of Fox Sports Live or SportsCenter at night. When Olbermann debuts on Monday, I'm probably going to spend most of my week with him -- either live or DVR'd.

I promise you though, I do get out enough.

@chrisskreager asks: Do any of the hockey execs at NBCSN secretly get happy/upset when certain teams advance or get KO'd in the playoffs?

It isn't some sort of gleeful wishing that permeates its way onto a television broadcasts, but executives want the ratings that make for the best matchups. They have totally good intentions when it comes to airing the games regardless, but to think they're not looking at the bottom line is just naive. This is for all networks with all non-football sports. Remember, we almost had a Memphis-Indiana NBA Finals this year.

@Phillysports25 asks: What are your impressions of Sportsdash on NBCSN so far?

I'll be honest, in my busy week, I only saw the premiere. If you read my interview with senior VP of production Dan Steir, you know it's got every shot to be good and doesn't appear headed toward nonsense like reading tweets on air. It's hosted by an appealing personality and professional broadcaster in Carolyn Manno and Dave Briggs certainly fits this type of show better than he did The Crossover. It'll be something the network needs to be patient with, but they have the kind of contributors available to make the show as good as they want it to be.

@timlyden asks: Why doesn't NFL Network show more games from the past? They show maybe one a week and it's usually the same games.

I ask this about pretty much every league-owned sports network, though NBA TV usually has a pretty good variety. They show what they think people want to watch. If you don't like it, complain about it. I guess you could say you've taken the first step to changing the world right here today.

@Curtos07 asks: Does SportsCenter plan on making any changes over the next year, besides the new set?

From conversations with John Skipper, and with producers of the show, the plan appears to be to differentiate the various SportsCenters from one another. That will also push the personalities of the anchors a little bit more. Steve Levy mentioned that it's something that's been more approved of in recent years than in the past. It's certainly a welcome development, too, when they're letting guys like Scott Van Pelt and John Buccigross show off their obvious gifts.

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