Time for the look back at the Year in Sports Media in 2012. Lots of great stuff. The year has been very interesting and we have seen a lot of things.
Just doing a Top Ten is never enough for the Year in Review. It’s always an even dozen with some honorable mentions mixed in.
Let’s go over what were the Sports Media Stories of 2012.
12. Embrace Debate Leads To Rob Parker Suspension
One of the silliest stories in 2012 was ESPN’s commitment to debate programming. Two shows were revamped to accommodate more debate among ESPN personalities, First Take and Numbers Never Lie. Due to outrageous statements made on First Take, mostly by Skip Bayless, the show received lots of attention and increased ratings. But the pressure to stand out may have caught up with Rob Parker who questioned whether DC NFL Team quarterback Robert Griffin III’s authenticity.
It led to Parker’s suspension and allegedly more oversight over the shows. We’ll see if it leads to some more control and fewer outrageous statements.
11. Steve Sabol (1942-2012)
One of the pioneers in sports television passed away in 2012. Steve Sabol’s impact on the National Football League’s popularity through NFL Films cannot be measured. With his father Ed, the Sabols brought fans closer to the game by thinking outside the box. Games weren’t just regular contests, they became movies with Hollywood production values and full orchestrations. Instead of showing games from high in the stadium, NFL Films went to field level and made extreme closeups of the players. In addition, Ed and Steve introduced slow motion photography to sports.
In 2011, Ed Sabol was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It would behoove voters to induct Steve sometime soon to join his dad.
10. Big Media Taps Into New Media
2012 saw Turner Sports purchased the much-criticized and now-improving Bleacher Report, USA Today buying Big Lead Sports and NBC Sports aligned itself with Yahoo! Sports. This is more than getting pageviews and improving comScores, this is about expanding portfolios and attracting younger audiences. According to comScore, Yahoo! has been the most popular sports news site for several years outpacing ESPN.com. Bleacher Report may get criticized for its multiple and questionable slideshows, but its hiring of some respected editors and writers have increased the quality of the site to the point where Turner Sports purchased the site for beaucoup bucks. And I have to make this disclaimer, Fang’s Bites is an independently-owned blog that is affiliated with USA Today Media Group. We will see more purchases in 2013.
9. NASCAR Renews with Fox
Fox Sports was the first of NASCAR’s TV partners to renew its ties with the sport taking the first half of the Sprint Cup season. For an estimated pricetag of over $2.4 billion through 2022, Fox remains with NASCAR in a relationship that dates back to 2002. Fox is expected to put some of its races on its new all-sports channel, but we’ll get to that later. And expect live on-streaming in this new contract. However, NASCAR’s ratings are a question-mark, but bidding for the second half in 2013 is expected to bring even more money. It’s all going to be quite an interesting year for NASCAR.
8. NBC Steals English Premier League and Formula One From Fox
October turned out to be a good month for NBC Sports Group as far as acquisitions were concerned. It first obtained the rights to Formula 1 as Fox gave just a nominal bid. Then a couple of weeks later, it emerged as the frontrunner to the English Premier League and then won out over a concerted combined bid from ESPN/Fox. While NBC Sports Network won’t be known as a college sports destination or for MLB, perhaps it can become an international sports channel with the EPL, Formula 1 and Olympic Sports. NBC Sports Network will have some sports to watch year-round with the English Premier League, Formula 1, MLS and the NHL (when it finally returns).
7. NFL Network Picks Up Its Last Two Holdouts
Since 2010, NFL Network has been gaining momentum in picking up carriage agreements with the major cable providers. It finally was able to sign deals in 2012 with its last two remaining holdouts, first Cablevision in August and then the very last one, Time Warner Cable in September. Thanks to the increased audience, NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football package had record ratings for its new 13 game schedule. It was a struggle for NFL Network to get all eight major cable and satellite providers on board, but after eight years, it finally got it done.
6. MLB New TV Contracts For A Lot of $$$
It started in August when ESPN renewed rights for its three nights of baseball games, a return to postseason and an increased amount of games for a total of $5.6 billion over eight years. Then in October, MLB announced deals with Fox and Turner for a combined $6.8 billion through 2021, providing them with TV Everywhere rights, postseason deals and a package of regular season games. For Fox, it allows the network to put games on its anticipated all-sports cable channel, but again, more on that later.
5. CBS & NBC Announce New Sports Radio Networks
2012 brought two new national networks to the sports talk radio scene. Within two days of each other, NBC Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio were announced by both companies and with respective partners Dial Global and Cumulus Radio. NBC Sports Radio has been airing limited weekend programming since September, however, CBS Sports Radio chose to wait until this month to begin full operation with a 24/7 lineup. Both have a long way to go to match the firepower and the reputation of ESPN Radio that has been on the scene since the early 1990′s, however, CBS has hired familiar names like Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb, John Feinstein, Scott Ferrall and Dana Jacobson. NBC will wait until the NCAA Final Four to finalize its weekday lineup. No matter the case, ESPN Radio finds itself with some formidable competition to join Yahoo! Sports Radio and Fox Sports Radio for listeners.
4. ESPN Free Agency
We had some big names leave the ESPN nest, Erin Andrews, Steve Berthiaume, Michelle Beadle, Cindy Brunson, Doug Gottlieb, Dana Jacobson, Michael Yam to name a few, but many stayed including Scott Van Pelt. This seemed to be quite the year for free agency for ESPN. In some cases, the network chose not to renew and wave goodbye to those departing, others decided not to return for other opportunities while in others, ESPN went out of its way to make sure its desired talent stayed. For the first time, ESPN was transparent in making statements about its free agency signings or departures. In the past, it had issued terse statements when media inquiries were made.
3. Fox Spending Spree
As the year-end was approaching, Fox Sports through its parent, News Corp., went on a spending spree unlike any other in sports media. It not only set up an all-sports cable channel for operation in 2013 (again, more on this later), but it bought into the YES Network which will eventually lead into a majority share of the New York Yankees regional sports network and fully purchased Sports Time Ohio for the Cleveland MLB Team. In addition, Fox is reportedly close to signing a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for its media rights. News Corp. had money to spend with the company splitting off its publishing holdings into a separate company and of course, the proverbial fiscal cliff where tax credits were about to change. Will we see more of Fox’s financial muscle in 2013? I think that’s a safe bet.
2. The Emergence of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2
While NBC Sports Network was attempting to bid for major sports properties, Fox Sports was quietly forming its cable sports strategy for 2013 and beyond. We began hearing rumblings about Fox rebranding Speed into an all-sports channel that would be named “Fox Sports 1″ then at the end of the year, the company’s Fuel channel would also be rebranded as “Fox Sports 2″.
In its new contracts with MLB, NASCAR, the Pac-12, UFC and other sports properties it signed in 2012, Fox had a provision to put games and events on Fox Sports 1. As part of its new contract with Major League Baseball, Fox Sports can place 40 regular season games on cable as well as several postseason games. We should expect a number of NASCAR Sprint Cup races on FS1 and most likely see some UFC events as well.
The strategy is in place. Let’s see how it’s enacted in 2013 and beyond.
1. NBC’s Olympics Both Fail and Succeed
Up until the London Olympics begin in late July, NBCUniversal had been downplaying both ratings and financial expectations stating that it expected to lose money and the ratings for a tape delayed event would not be as good as in 2008 when events were carried live from Communist China. Somewhere along the way, something happened. NBC broke even financially on the Olympics and they became the most watched event in US television history. That was the successful part.
The failure was the tape delayed aspect when many viewers wanted to watch events live. The #NBCFAIL hashtag on Twitter quickly spread like wildfire during the first weekend of the Olympics. In addition, online streaming was sluggish and haggard. But even with the delays and streaming problems, Americans still watched in droves. When the games were said and done, NBCUniversal could pat itself on the back.
Struggles of new regional sports networks to gain carriage agreements.
NHL Does Well; But Shoots Itself in the Foot with the Lockout
Tim Tebow Overload
ESPN Continues Dominance in College Sports
Fridays are becoming way too busy for me. I need to find a way to stop it. Anyway, I have some links and thoughts for you in this latest edition of the notebook.
ESPN’s Sean McDonough hopes to return to the broadcast booth after undergoing surgery to correct a rare inner ear condition that caused him to hear things unusually loud. McDonough talked with Chad Finn of the Boston Globe and Michael Hiestand of USA Today about his condition and how it’s prevented him from going back to work.
Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock has this takedown of ESPN’s First Take and Rob Parker.
So ESPN is dialing back the Tebowmania? Apparently not as Awful Announcing discovered.
Ben Koo of AA found out that NFL Films is producing an edition of “A Football Life” devoted to Steve Sabol. I’m looking forward to seeing this when the documentary is finished. To be honest, just one hour on Sabol’s career will not do justice to his impact on sports television.
As the future of The Big East is still being determined, the Catholic 7 all-basketball schools that have broken away from the conference appear to be talking to both Fox and NBC Sports Network to place their games on one or the other or both. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated has an extensive article on the Big East’s future. I would think Fox would be the favorite or perhaps, ESPN might jump in to get a package of games.
If you want to know why NBC’s Sunday Night Football is the number one show in primetime television, you have to go back to its genesis when producer Fred Gaudelli worked for ESPN and was producing Sunday night games for the Alleged Worldwide Leader. Deadspin’s John Koblin has a great article on the teamwork between Gaudelli, analyst Cris Collinsworth and director Drew Esocoff.
Another good article from Deadspin on how NFL RedZone is cannibalizing the Sunday afternoon game broadcasts.
Former US Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton admits to the Wisconsin State Journal that she was a high-priced Las Vegas escort.
While Dan Patrick is on vacation for the holidays, Fang’s Bites fave Bonnie Bernstein will sub for him on Christmas Eve, next Friday and on New Year’s Eve.
In the latest edition of the Sports Media Weekly podcast, you heard former 98.5 The Sports Hub nighttime host Damon Amendolara talking about his new gig as the overnight host for CBS Sports Radio. The Boston sports radio station has named his replacement and it’s a familiar voice to sports radio listeners in the New England area.
For the next Sports Media Weekly podcast on Wednesday, December 26, it’s going to include several sports media observers providing their stories of 2012 and predictions for 2013. I’ve been gathering the stories and predictions from previous guests of the podcast. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
Awful Announcing has Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch talking about his year-end sports media awards.
Jim Williams in the Washington Examiner says college sports are all about the money.
And Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times provides his top sports media stories of 2012 in the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center.
That will do it.
I’ll do some quick linkage on this Monday.
In USA Today, Michael Hiestand talks with NFL on Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira.
In his extensive Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King remembers NFL Films’ Steve Sabol.
John Ourand at Sports Business Journal notes that MLB will be increasing its haul from ESPN, Fox and Turner in the latest TV contract.
Rick Porter at zap2it says NBC’s Sunday Night Football and CBS beat the Emmys on ABC like a drum on Sunday.
Anthony Crupi of AdWeek writes that the NHL lockout is putting NBC Sports Network in a huge bind.
Toni Fitzgerald at Media Life says NBC’s Sunday Night Football scored an overnight ratings win over the network competition.
Ed Sherman at The Sherman Report talks with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell says the next big thing is putting team logos on food.
Mike McCarthy at Sports Biz USA tells us that the Brooklyn Nets cheerleaders will stress more of the sizzle in their uniforms.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times writes that not every Time Warner Cable customer had access to NFL Network and NFL RedZone yesterday.
Phil Mushnick of the New York Post is the reason why Americans can’t have nice things.
Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union says Notre Dame’s resurgence has NBC executives doing backflips at its headquarters.
David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun says NBC’s Hines Ward still doesn’t feel the love from Ravens fans.
David Barron of the Houston Chronicle writes that Sunday’s Texans-Broncos game received a big rating in H-Town.
David says former Red Sox and Astros voice Jerry Trupiano called two recent games for MLB.com.
John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer has the channel numbers for NFL Network and NFL RedZone for Insight customers.
Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tells us that Texans-Broncos did really well locally.
Paul M. Banks at the Chicago Sports Media Watch reports that Comcast SportsNet has replaced the popular Sarah Kustok with a new reporter.
The Los Angeles Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth has five things he learned from the weekend.
Tom has the SoCal sports calendar for this week.
Bruce Dowbiggin in the Toronto Globe and Mail notes that Blue Jays analyst Greg Zaun may be facing some disciplinary action after criticizing the team culture following Yunel Escobar’s homophobic incident.
Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at how a DirecTV error made Lions fans miss a key touchdown during Sunday’s game against Tennessee.
Sports Media Watch notes the overnight ratings for Sunday Night Football.
SMW says IndyCar finished its worst rated season ever.
As Tuesday turns into Wednesday on the East Coast, it’s time to bring you some appreciations and some obituaries from across the country on the late NFL Films President Steve Sabol. Whether it be from media writers or beat reporters, Sabol is being remembered for his influence on the NFL as he helped it to grow into the country’s most popular sport.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King writes that Steve Sabol gained the trust of NFL owners and coaches after they realized how much he loved football.
SI’s Richard Rothschild writes that NFL Films won’t be the same without Steve Sabol.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand says Sabol was a master storyteller.
Rachel Cohen at the Associated Press writes that Sabol was the creative force behind NFL Films.
NFL Network’s Rich Eisen has a special podcast with several guests including NBC’s Bob Costas remembering Steve Sabol.
NFL.com has the video when Rich Eisen broke the news on NFL Network of Sabol’s passing.
Mike Barnes of the Hollywood Reporter says Sabol made NFL Films an American institution.
Stephen Miller in the Wall Street Journal writes that Steve Sabol helped to make the NFL larger-than-life.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner has this appreciation of Sabol and his work.
At the Sherman Report, Ed Sherman notes that Steve Sabol was also a poet.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has former NBC Sports Emperor Dick Ebersol opining on Sabol’s influence on the NFL.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says Steve Sabol’s impact on the NFL will live on.
Also from the Times, Douglas Martin has Sabol’s obituary.
Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer says Sabol always stayed close to his Philly roots.
Zach Berman of the Inquirer has Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s statement on Sabol’s passing.
Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner recalls his days working with Steve Sabol.
Mac Engel at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Steve Sabol leaves large shoes to fill at NFL Films.
The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron has reaction from Sabol’s friends and former co-workers.
Tom Reed at the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Sabol was a true visionary.
Vince Tuss of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that NFL Films is not complete without plenty of Minnesota Vikings heartbreak.
Chris Erskine in the Los Angeles Times says Steve Sabol shaped the way sports would be covered.
Former Times writer Mike Kupper has the paper’s obit on Sabol.
And that will wrap up the links on Steve Sabol.
With Steve Sabol’s passing, I thought it would be appropriate to bring you my Top 10 favorite NFL Films moments. These video clips have become iconic just as the moments themselves.
10. Holy Roller, 1978. This was one of the craziest finishes to any game. Between blood rivals, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, the fumble to end the game in the Raiders’ favor has become one of the biggest moments in the history of the league.
9. Old Man Willie, 1977. In Super Bowl XI, the Oakland Raiders’ Willie Brown intercepted Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton to seal the team’s first championship. The shot at 3:19 of Willie running towards the NFL Films’ camera in the end zone is one of the best shots ever. This clip is from NFL’s Top 100 Greatest Players.
8. Lynn Swann’s Catch, 1977. I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there’s no doubting the diving catch by Lynn Swann in Super Bowl X against the Dallas Cowboys has become one of the most iconic shots by NFL Films in the 1970′s.
7. Marcus Allen’s 74 Yard Run. From Super Bowl XVIII, Marcus Allen sealed the Raiders’ third Super Bowl win. Holy Toledo! This is from America’s Game.
6. The Catch, 1982. From the NFC Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. Al Michaels narrates.
5. John Taylor, Super Bowl XXIII. Again from America’s Game, the footage of the game-winning drive by the 49ers over the Cincinnati Bengals is just classic and it ends with the Taylor catch from Joe Montana.
4. Scott Norwood’s miss, Super Bowl XXV. Kind of cruel to include this, but you can see how close this kick was to being good and making the Buffalo Bills champions. Oh, what could have been.
3. Miracle at the Meadowlands, 1978. At the time, the Giants were a rather hapless franchise finding all kinds of ways to lose. At their new home of Giants Stadium in New Jersey, seemingly on their way to beating the Philadelphia Eagles, Joe Pisarcik fumbled a handoff to Larry Csonka and Herman Edwards picked it up for the win. Eagles voice Merrill Reese had the call.
2. Alcoa Fantastic Finishes. Forgive the quality of the clip. Throughout the 1980′s both CBS and NBC would air what was called “Alcoa Fantastic Finishes” at the two minute warning of each game. As the networks went to break, the announcer would say, “As we reach the two minute warning, it’s time for another Fantastic Finish” and we would get an NFL Films feature showing yes, a fantastic finish to a previous game. I wish we still had the “Fantastic Finish” feature.
1. The Immaculate Reception, 1972. I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, but you can’t deny this moment was one of the greatest in NFL history and also a great moment in storytelling by NFL Films.
You may have your own favorites, but these are mine. And a perfect way to say goodbye to Steve Sabol.
The National Football has sent this chronology of NFL Films from its humble beginning in 1962 all the way through today. Amazing how the company has grown to one of the most recognized brands in sports media.
Take a look.
50 YEARS OF PIONEER FILMMAKING
- Ed Sabol, founder of Blair Motion Pictures (6 employees), bids $3,000 for the film rights to the 1962 NFL Championship Game
- Pro Football’s Longest Day: The 1962 NFL Championship Game premieres at New York’s Toots Shor’s to critical acclaim
- NFL buys Blair Motion Pictures after Ed Sabol convinces Commissioner Pete Rozelle that NFL needs its own film company to “not only to promote the NFL, but to preserve its history.”
- NFL FILMS begins first season of filming every NFL game
- NFL FILMS employs graphics in How to Watch Pro Football to explain strategy and tactics
- NFL FILMS wires Philadelphia’s Joe Kuharich for sound during an NFL game
- They Call It Pro Football unveils NFL FILMS’ revolutionary filmmaking style with its use of ground-level, slow-motion NFL action and sideline sound
- NFL FILMS produces football’s 1st magazine show – hosted by Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
- NFL FILMS premieres its 1st network pre-game feature on CBS Countdown to Kickoff
- NFL FILMS produces sports’ 1st blooper film, Football Follies
- NFL FILMS 1st to film pre-game locker room action (Coach Saban & the Denver Broncos)
- NFL FILMS 1st to use 600mm telephoto lens to capture what Steve Sabol describes as “the raw intensity of the NFL – the bloody hands, the eyes bulging, the snot spraying and the sweat flying.”
- Premiere of ABC’s Monday Night Football Halftime Highlights produced by NFL FILMS
- NFL FILMS introduces reverse-angle replay
- NFL FILMS introduces popular music – “The Way We Were” – scored to NFL footage featuring Bart Starr
- NFL FILMS produces 1st Road To The Super Bowl special
- NFL FILMS moves from a 19,000-sq. ft. production studio in Philadelphia, PA, to a 40,000-sq. ft. multi-million dollar production lot in Mt. Laurel, NJ
- NFL FILMS wins first Emmys for Road To The Super Bowl at inaugural Sports Emmys
- NFL FILMS introduces 1st sports home videos – 28 team highlights & special releases Big Game America and Football Follies
- NFL FILMS expands production studio to include state-of-the-art post production wing, fiber-optic services and a high security film archive
- NFL FILMS designs software for digital-footage logging system
- NFL FILMS produces NFL DREAM SEASON for ESPN: a computer effects project that alters game footage to realistically pit the NFL’s 20 greatest teams against one another – the 1986 New York Giants vs. the 1951 Los Angeles Rams – in a mythical eight-week series
- NFL FILMS celebrates Silver Anniversary
- NFL FILMS annexes building to expand its production studio to 100,000 sq. ft.
- NFL FILMS celebrates 30th Anniversary
- NFL FILMS produces filmmaking’s 1st live-action sports short ever shot in Cinemascope, the critically acclaimed, 100 Yard Universe
- NFL commissions NFL FILMS’ Tom Hedden to compose Super Bowl XXXI theme
- NFL FILMS highlights appears in Cyberspace in the NFL Theater on NFL.COM
- NFL FILMS PRESENTS leaves syndication after 30 years and moves to ESPN
- NFL FILMS produces the 1st interactive sports program on Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) – The Official Super Bowl XXXII Championship DVD
- NFL FILMS PRESENTS wins third consecutive Emmy award for Outstanding Sports Series
- NFL FILMS shoots its 7,000th NFL game
- NFL FILMS breaks ground on 200,000sq. ft. motion-picture studio schedule to open in Spring 2001
- NFL FILMS increases Emmy award total to 78 after receiving awards for Outstanding Music Composition/Direction and Outstanding Features – its third consecutive award in that category
- NFL FILMS increases Emmy award total to 80 after receiving awards for Outstanding Feature and Outstanding Editing HARD KNOCKS: Training Camp with the Baltimore Ravens, a reality sports documentary television series produced by NFL FILMS and HBO premiered in July
- NFL FILMS opens a new 200,000 square-foot television and motion picture studio fully equipped for Hi-Def production
- NFL FILMS adds two more Emmys to its collection taking home the trophies for Outstanding Music Composition and Outstanding Audio
- NFL FILMS plays pivotal role in launch of NFL NETWORK – the first television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football
- NFL FILMS founder Ed Sabol and President Steve Sabol are presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 Sports Emmy Awards
- NFL NETWORK wins its first Emmy Award for NFL FILMS Presents: Big Charlie’s Place becoming the youngest network in history to garner the prestigious award
- NFL FILMS earns four more Emmy Awards increasing its total to 91
- NFL FILMS increases Emmy award total to 92 after receiving awards for Outstanding Studio Show Weekly – Inside the NFL
- NFL FILMS releases Autumn Thunder; a ten disc box set of current and classic music from NFL FILMS’ award winning composers.
- NFL FILMS launches what Steve Sabol calls “the biggest series in company history” in America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions. The series features one-hour documentaries profiling each Super Bowl-winning team.
- NFL FILMS wins 3 Emmy Awards for America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions, NFL FILMS Presents: Finding Your Butkus, and Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Kansas City Chiefs, bringing the grand total to 95 Emmys since 1979.
- NFL FILMS wins 2 Emmy Awards for Studio Show Weekly -Inside the NFL and Post-produced Audio-Sound for Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys, bringing the grand total to 97 Emmys since 1979.
- NFL FILMS produced the five-part miniseries Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League for Showtime which aired in fall 2009 as part of the American Football League 50th anniversary celebration.
- NFL FILMS was honored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with the dedication of a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker at 230 North 13th Street in Philadelphia recognizing the location as the “Birthplace of NFL FILMS.”
- NFL FILMS wins 3 Emmy Awards for Edited Sports Series/Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Post Produced Audio Sound/Hard Knocks Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals and Inside the NFL: Sounds of the Year bringing the grand total to 100 Emmys since 1979
- NFL FILMS wins 5 Emmy Awards for Edited Sports Series/Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Documentary/Lombardi, Camera Work/Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, Post Produced Audio-Sound/Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals and Live Event Turnaround/Sound FX: Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets, bringing the grand total to 105 Emmys since 1979
- Ed Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6, 2011
- Steve and Ed Sabol were inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in November of 2011 which was followed by Steve’s induction into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in December
- The premiere season of both A Football Life (NFL Network) and NFL Turning Point (NBC Sports Network), produced by NFL FILMS, earned Emmy Award nominations in the category of Outstanding Edited Sports Series/Anthology.
- NFL FILMS wins 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Composition/Direction/Lyrics for Ed Sabol’s Last Football Movie: Men of Mettle, and Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound for Sound FX: All Access bringing the grand total to 107 Emmys since 1979
- Hard Knocks: Training Camp at the Miami Dolphins went completely digital, becoming the first series in NFL Films history where no footage was shot on film or tape
More coming up.
NFL Network and the National Football League has sent this obituary on Steve Sabol, the President of Steve Sabol, the man who helped shape the popularity of the game since 1962.
NFL Network Obituary on Steve Sabol
NFL Films is more than a production company, it’s an institution. The life’s work of Steve Sabol, a football player turned artist who transformed American television for half a century.
In 1962, Ed Sabol won the rights to film the league’s championship game and NFL Films was born. In a sense, so was Steve, who was there that freezing day at Yankee Stadium working as a cameraman. For the next 50 years, he never stopped working for the NFL.
Few men in the League have ever had a longer run. None has ever had a better one. He was the game’s first quintuple threat. An Emmy-winning auteur who won statuettes for cinematography, editing, writing, directing and producing. The only man ever to be so honored.
But it wasn’t hardware that Steve loved, it was the game. And he saw it as no one ever had. Through the eyes of an artist. With an unerring eye for detail, and a pitch perfect ear, Steve quickly transformed NFL Films from simple chroniclers of the game, to epic myth makers. And he did it, as all great artists do, by taking chances.
Super slow motion, wireless mics on players, reverse angle replays, follies films, and custom composed musical scores. All that’s standard stuff today, but before NFL Films it was unheard of. But then, Steve never thought like a sports filmmaker, he thought like a Hollywood storyteller. Big, bold, honest, and, funny. Those were the hallmarks of Steve’s work. And Steve himself.
Across fifty years, and tens of thousands of programs, there was one constant at NFL Films: Steve Sabol. He was one of that now rare breed of executive who not only had done every job in the company at one time or another, but could still do any of them better than most. More than the company’s head, he was its heartbeat.
Last summer, Steve presented his father for induction into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. Big Ed, reminded the crowd that his motto was: “Tell me a story and it’ll live forever.” Like any good son, Steve always listened to his father. Then worked until he became the greatest storyteller the NFL has ever known. But he also listened to his heart. And by turning to the game he loved, he also embraced a piece of wisdom he learned while studying art at Colorado college. Art is love’s accomplice, take love away and there is no art. Steve Sabol knew that better than anyone.
More on Steve Sabol coming up.
We have the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement on the passing of NFL Films President Steve Sabol.
STEVE SABOL (1942-2012)
NFL Films President Steve Sabol, for five decades the creative force behind the unique brand of storytelling and cinematography that brought America closer to the game of football, died today at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.
“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
More coming up later.
When you look at the history of the National Football League on television and the sports media, there are just a few men who come to mind who have had a huge impact on how the sport became America’s Game. Baseball is America’s Pastime, but there’s no doubt that football is America’s Game.
Ed and Steve Sabol who ran NFL Films has passed away today at the age of 69. To properly describe his impact on the game, it would take more than just one post.
The Sabols helped to bring Hollywood production values into NFL Films such as slow motion photography, beautiful cinematography, wireless microphones, musical scores, storytelling and so much more. Steve began with NFL Films when his father bought the rights to film the NFL Championship Game in 1962 and remained with the company to his dying day.
Throughout today, Fang’s Bites will pay tribute to Steve Sabol and his influence on the sports media.