NFL Redzone on Sky Sports: THE DEBATE.

This Thursday brought the announcement from Sky Sports that during the last three weeks of the season, the NFL RedZone channel will be shown in the 6pm slot as opposed to a complete live game, in addition to a full game at 9pm. For those not in the know, NFL RedZone flies around the league whenever the ball reaches the red-zone in a game, often switching between multiple games swiftly in an attempt to bring the viewer every touchdown, major attacking play and score.
This decision has split the NFL-viewing British public, and has even divided us here at Any Given Sunday (Night). In the blue corner, looking forward to a new way to spend Sunday evenings is David Dickson, whilst wholly disagreeing with the decision in the red corner is Jamie Cutteridge. Let’s take a look at both side of the argument:

 
FOR

 

David Dickson (Dallas Cowboys fan)

 
Now, some may argue that as a Cowboys fan, I have no business whatsoever supporting the use of the RedZone channel, especially those at the humiliation-fest that was this year’s Wembley game. It will only bring me false hope, swiftly followed by pain with an infusion of heartbreak and embarrassment as each touchdown by say, the Jaguars, flies into the endzone.

 
Allegiances aside, however, I am fully in support of Sky’s decision to include the RedZone channel in our Sunday-night viewing package. Yes, the loss of a full game will always rub some fans up the wrong way. But as we move towards the latter part of the season, we are veritably saturated with football on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. We will still be able to enjoy four games a week live, whilst enjoying every single score during the tightly packed 6pm schedule. We are blessed at the moment with exceptional coverage of the sport throughout the various channels, and we should look at the positives of this decision rather than being afraid of the changes it will bring.

 
For years I have enjoyed setting up the NFL website with every score at my disposal during the early games, like an amateur Jeff Stelling in my own living room. To have an entire television slot devoted to this, with the ability to view the actual plays themselves, sounds like a dream come true. To draw on the Wembley game once again, the effect on those 80,000 people was there for everyone to see. Rather than simply showing the latest scores as in recent years, the actual video footage on the big screens at the stadium brought cheers, jeers and gasps at every interval. If this can replicate itself at home, it will be a success.

 
In addition, we have to look at the decision in context. RedZone will only be in place during the last three weeks of the season, where every score around the league has an impact on the playoff situation. Whilst watching one game will be thrilling, I believe it will be thrice as thrilling jumping between several relevant and exciting games throughout the evening. We will all be right on the button, all the time, and the playoff race will be made infinitely more exciting with its introduction.

 
Finally, this has worked before. The multi-view capacity of Sky Sports during the Champions League has worked wonders, and the best feature of the entire package is the ‘Goal Alert’ feature, allowing you to view goals as they go in, at will. RedZone essentially completes this task for the viewer, without forcing Spielberg-esque directorial skills upon the fans at home. This particularly works on a night where you have little interest in a particular team that’s playing, and just wish to watch as a neutral, and let’s face it, during the latter part of the season, a fair few of us will doing that! Cowboys fans especially. It’s not like our game would be the feature anyway…

 
…but then again, neither would Jamie Cutteridge’s Titans. Over to you Jamie!

AGAINST

Jamie Cutteridge (Tennessee Titans fan)

Redzone coverage on TV? Dear me. This IS on in the States, but only on NFL network, which doesn’t have the right to NFL games on a sunday afternoon. Your average football fan doesn’t sit down and watch that for 3 hours, but rather chooses one of the many games on other networks and watches that. Sky made the comparision with Gilette Soccer Saturday over here, and I see what they mean. But why is Gilette popular? Yes, Jeff Stelling is great (and if he was presenting Redzone maybe I would be keen) but in reality, there isn’t an option as there aren’t other games on TV. You ask the average fan and I guess they’d much rather watch a full game.

I understand why they’re doing this at this stage of the season as well. A lot of the games going on will have crucial playoff ramifications and Redzone does present a good way to keep up with multiple games. The thing is, how possible is it to keep up to date with all thats going on at once? Redzone say they can show 4 games at the same time, well I’d rather just watch one properly rather than 4 tiny screens. When I’m watching a 6PM game I like it to have all of my attention, sure, normally I have the NFL website open next to me, in the same way when I’m at a football game I keep up to date with other scores on my phone, whilst still concentrating on one game!

Part of the joy of the NFL is that you get to see a team struggling, a defense containing a top class running back, and sacking a quarter-back. In Red-zone, there’s no space for this. As fans we will be bombarded with offense-driven action, as teams pile on points, we might get to the see the odd goal-line stand, but more impressive is a defense stopping a team further upfield. I feel redzone takes away a lot of the drama as well, rather than seeing a team  start a drive from scratch, you’ll see the last parts of it, when a team has already found their rhythm, rather than scrambling for those early first down. Redzone will also not show the big plays live. The interceptions returned for touchdowns, the deep passes when the wide reciever destroys the corner back or the running back finding a gap and taking it all the way. We’ll get to see a game as points are ready to be scored, missing so much of the drama. In the same way that football fans will always prefer the drama of a full game to the nicely packaged highlights of Match of the Day, NFL fans revel in the mundanity of a 3rd down stop or the explosiveness of a big punt return.

To be honest, I feel a little bit patronised by the decision. It feels to me as if Sky are saying that we little UK-based fans can’t handle the full 3 hours of a live game (in their prime slot) and instead need to watch a watered down version of it. It doesn’t give fans any credit that maybe they have some interest in the game other than seeing Tom Brady throw one in from 15 yards. Part of what I’ve loved about the UKNFL coverage is being able to chat about the entirity of the game, and all the stuff outside of it (such as Brady’s hair) in the redzone coverage, it will merely be watching teams put points on the board. From our interaction with you guys I can fully say that UK-based NFL fans will not get enough credit in this decison, you’re dedicated and love the whole game. The first half of the Wembley game this year was amazingly low scoring with very little redzone action. Were people complaining, booing, leaving, no, becasue they realised that this sport is bigger than the 20 yard section at each end of the pitch.

In many ways, Sky’s decison serves as no more than providing a 3 hour advert for it’s full game coverage to follow. For those that have never watched NFL, it is probably an easier way in, rather than watching a full game, but rather than rewarding their loyal fanbase, Sky have made a choice to get more viewers, understandable, but at the same time, in my opinion, wrong. I’m sure Redzone will be entertaining, but so is the full match!

Others like me are still annoyed that the choice of multiple matches is no longer on the red button, in taking away another game, Sky will anger some more. And perhaps the red button is the answer here. For those that want to keep track of other games or try to get into the sport, stick it on there, for others like me, leave us alone.

I disagree with Sky’s decision and my Sunday night’s will be spent with an online stream on one window, and the NFL website on another.

That’s what we think, but what about you, please comment below with your view on Sky’s decision. Will it impact your viewing? Will you look elsewhere to watch a full game? Or have Sky made a decision that is going to enhance your sunday night? Let us know.

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    • Richard Weston
    • December 10th, 2010

    I agree with Jamie Cutteridge that watching a NFL game is far more rewarding than the proposed RedZone coverage. A game is all about momentum, and we want to watch it unfold live, with either the winners of matchups emerging or the dramatic game changing plays – watched live.

    And at this stage of the season watching the entire (well chosen) game is more important than ever. Every 3rd down conversion/stop could be crucial to playoff hopes.

    It was such a shame when the red button game was lost. This would be a great place for redzone. But NFL.com is such an amazing website. Tracking several games and instant highlights are available to all.

    NFL.com for chaotic flipping between games to catch up with Sunday’s action… And Sky to tell the full, dramatic, unfolding story of 1 game.

    • Bill
    • December 11th, 2010

    I am for Red Zone. As mentioned we already get TNF, 9pm game, SNF and MNF – plenty of full games to watch. This development has got me excited to tune in again.

  1. Jamie’s argument wins hands down
    I love watching the whole game, defensive stands, tempo changes etc etc all add up to the drama that red zone will cut in and show you only the climax of – it’s a headline only with no story beneath it.
    I watch the full game with nfl.com on the laptop so this for me is a massive step backwards – like Jamie i’ll be trying find a good stream of a game and watch that on the laptop with Redzone on as the background.

    • Gav
    • December 12th, 2010

    I have friends in US who are obsessed by REDZONE, I myself cannot wait…am looking forward to Double, Triple and even Quad box. Apparently the host is incredible, am also looking forward to hearing the local commentators rather than the same guys all the time.

    • Chris
    • December 12th, 2010

    This is an embarrasing development for sky. Just an acknowledgement that thy’re giving up doing serious coverage.

    On Sky at the minute, they’re saying this is a “trial”…..By trial, they mean, this will definitely be in, full time next season.

    The best bit about football is investing time in a game, getting into it, following all the ups and downs.

    Not just watching endless highlights of big plays….

    As I said, they’re calling it a “trial”. I almost guarantee, by next season, they’ll only be showing one Sunday game live.

    • finbarr
    • December 13th, 2010

    i love redzone. its part of the gamepass package in ireland. i watch it every week. i have the sky game on my tv and redzone on my laptop.
    im sure people trying to get into the game get turned off with ad breaks after every possession and when a player is injured and the 2 minute warnings. it took me ages to get used to it.
    if redzone attracts new fans to the sport, then thats great.

    • paul
    • December 13th, 2010

    Not everybody can sit up and watch games so late a night (I have a very early start in the mornings) so the only regular chance to watch a whole genuine live game is the six 0 clock slot on sunday.
    Watching a recording the following day is not the same.
    This smacks of an attempt to boost viewing figues.

  2. why have sky decided to give us this crock of shite called red zone, its not what i signed up for or want, i want to watch a live game , they can stuff it up there arse

    • John Cocks
    • December 19th, 2010

    are sky saving money on this deal ???

    • Ashley Jones
    • December 19th, 2010

    Red Zone has disappointed me. I have totally lost interest only an hour into the games. The enjoyable part of watching and playing football are the swings in momentum, the qb scramble on 3rd down from his own end zone, a pick 6, a rb blowing over a corner or a linebacker smashing a receiver.

    Every year the NFL circus comes to London and we hear “I’m surprised by how knowledgable the fans are” from visiting players, coaches, owners and whoever else is on the NFL’s gravy train at the time. That knowledge comes from seeing all parts of the game not just the fantasy point scoring highlights.

    While I can see the concept is a good one if the game Sky chose is a dud, or that game finishes early and lets fans see the end of another exciting game I don’t see Red Zone increasing the amount of football fans in the UK.

    There are also a lot of people that don’t have the option to record later games and consequently won’t have the opportunity to view a single game in its entirety.

    • Rob Everitt
    • December 20th, 2010

    Well after the firstweek’s trial I have really tried to watch and appreciate Redzone, but I feel really disappointed by it. I want to watch all aspects of a full game, not a mish-mash of clips. Like many other people I tried to express my feelings to the “live discussion” that Sky said was going on but numerous postings failed to make it to the screen. From the way that and Kevin barely mentioned it after the initial enthusiasm I would guess the feedback from viewers did not go as Sky expected or wanted. I hope the powers that be ditch this obviously unpopular and unwanted development soon.

    • Rob Everitt
    • December 22nd, 2010

    Result! Sky seem to have been listening to what the majority of fans want and have gone back to two full games on Sunday nights. No reasons given or even comment. Just an alteration to the schedule and disappearance of any RZ mention.

    • Richard Weston
    • January 2nd, 2011

    I love Redzone!
    I posted against it before I got a chance to see it and thought now I should apologise.
    Excellent idea to put it on the red button, never would have thought I would abandon the live game for it, but it is an excellent show.
    The presentation is so much better than I thought it would be. Very well produced with a brillaint, slick anchor.
    It’s not the way to learn or appreciate the real game, but if you know the teams (and wagered on a few) it’s so good!

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