Last week, I did a Videos of the Week on the Best Sports TV themes and it was so popular that it warranted a follow up that same day. And it’s now time to do a Part II and give you some more themes. I’ll do some college basketball, pregame shows and soccer. Let’s get to them without delay.
Since CBS renewed its contract with the NCAA, bringing in Turner Sports to air the NCAA Tournament through 2024, I figured we could look back at the networks various themes over the years. And yes, they’ve used more than one.
This dates back to 1982 when CBS first got the contract to air college basketball in 1981, taking the package away from NBC Sports. It began a relationship that has lasted into the 21st Century. This is the original open and theme. It’s a clean copy of the open that would show clips to introduce the teams participating in the day’s contest.
This theme was used when CBS renewed its contract with the NCAA for another six years in 1987 and lasted until 1993. I like this version.
In 1993, CBS renewed its contract with the NCAA once again and this video has a couple of opens to the tournament that year featuring Jim Nantz and Sean McDonough. The music is quite familiar.
The other network doing college basketball in earnest is ESPN and this the theme used from 1995 through 2001.
And here’s ESPN’s current college basketball theme used on its family of networks including in syndication.
NFL Pregame Shows
Let’s move to the NFL pregame shows and I love these themes. They just get you ready for football. This is from 1978 and the NFL Today theme. Brent Musberger is your host. Jayne Kennedy had replaced Phyllis George who tried to branch out from sports.
Moving to 1982, CBS updated the NFL Today theme and jazzed up the open for the times. Phyllis George had returned to the show. It also segued into the NFL on CBS theme that was used at the time.
Let’s jump ahead to 1993 and CBS now had a different cast for the NFL Today, Greg Gumbel and Terry Bradshaw and this video also segues into the theme that was used at the time, one that CBS used in the late 1990′s into the early aughts.
NBC didn’t have much luck in the ratings with its NFL pregame shows as it was pitted against the NFL Today and then Fox NFL Sunday from the late 1970′s into the late 1990′s. But it still tried. We go to NFL ’81 and this video is bad quality, but you can still hear the NFL on NBC theme and Bryant Gumbel is the host.
Here’s a nine second version of the NFL ’85 theme. Bob Costas had become host by this time.
As NBC Sports prepared to go into a new decade, the pregame show had been renamed “NFL Live” and here is the theme from 1990.
And here’s NBC’s current theme used for both Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football, composed by the great John Williams.
This wasn’t a pregame show, but ESPN’s NFL Primetime got you ready for Sunday Night Football and it was one of the best highlight shows bar none. While Chris Berman is a parody of himself now, he was in his element doing the highlights of every Sunday afternoon NFL game with Tom Jackson. Here’s the NFL Primetime theme from the mid to late 1990′s.
Back in the 1970′s, one of the few ways for a soccer fan to watch international games was to wait on Saturday afternoons to watch “Soccer Made in Germany” on PBS. That’s right, PBS aired some sports in its early days. Be patient. The theme comes at the end. Toby Charles voiced the highlights and he was even the host for World Cup highlights in 1978 for PBS as well. Great stuff.
I don’t know why, but I find this next theme very intriguing. This is the UEFA Champions League theme that’s played by every rightsholder around the world. I have the entire version and I once found myself singing “THE CHAMP-EE-YONS! THE CHAMP-EE-YONS!” walking out of my car. Silly, I know, but it’s catching. This is the description of the arrangement as put on the page where this video is on YouTube: “The UEFA Champions League theme song was performed by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chorus. It is an arrangement by Tony Britten of Georg Frideric Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” from the Coronation Anthems.” Enjoy.
Since the World Cup is coming up in less than a month, why not give you some World Cup themes? This is from the BBC for its 1990 coverage in Italy. I love the opens BBC Sport produces for the Olympics and World Cup. This is Luciano Pavarotti’s version of Nessun Dorma, an opera that was made popular in the last decade by the Three Tenors.
Damn! That was awesome! Here’s BBC’s open and theme for World Cup Match of the Day in 1998. The World Cup was in France that year.
In 2002, the World Cup went to Asia and South Korea and Japan were co-hosts. This is the BBC open from that year. I don’t know what this music is supposed to be.
And this is from 2006 when the World Cup went to Germany.
Ok, I found more videos than I had planned on, but this was fun to do. Next week, sports anthology themes as well as tennis, golf and other sports that find my fancy.