Who's on First—or ABC, NBC or ESPN?

There is nothing like consistency to build brand loyalty. Neither M*A*S*H nor Cheers were ratings giants until they settled into their respective Monday and Thursday night time slots where viewers knew to find them (and tuned in in droves) year after year after year.

When it came to watching the NFL, time was if you were watching an NFC matchup, you knew you were tuned in to CBS. AFC? NBC, of course. And, if it was Monday night, all gridiron fans made a beeline for ABC.

In recent years, I have become confused (and I am sure you are not alone) as to what is shown where. Right now I am watching an AFC matchup with the longtime Monday Night Football announcer team of Al Michaels and John Madden. Problem is, it is Sunday night and the game is being broadcast by NBC (and, heck, it wasn’t that long ago that Madden was broadcast buddies with Pat Sommeral—on CBS).

I’ve become used to the NFC on Fox and, to some degree, the AFC on CBS. But, what happened to the great post-game recaps on ESPN’s NFL Primetime? Oh yea, that has moved to Monday nights along with their weekly game broadcast.

It’s a revolving door of revolving broadcast rights and broadcast teams with those rights (and teams) going to the highest bidder. Who wins in all of this? Certainly not the confused audience and, I would argue, neither do the “winning” networks. Too much change breeds confusion which breeds lower ratings. An audience will only move so many times. There are simply too many other distractions and options today.

Some things, however, never change: In broadcasting, consistency is next to godly-ness.