In an otherwise rather lackluster attempt at a “throwback” football column designed to offer a humorous take on the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, Gregg Easterbrook captures beautifully how much our choices have expanded:
In vacuum-tube news, have you heard the big story? ABC will televise the new upstart American Football League. With one NFL game on NBC each Sunday and another on CBS, if there’s also a game on ABC, that means three pro football games on TV in the same week! Add the one college game, and that’s four televised football games weekly. Plus, ABC says it’s going to bring two complete camera crews to each game, instead of the standard one fixed midfield camera. Good golly Miss Molly! Football on television has reached nirvana — it can’t get any better than this. If only my set’s rabbit ears would bring in CBS. But don’t get me started.
My parents were teens in 1959 but this remained the status quo well into my teens — if not beyond. Sure, “Monday Night Football” debuted in 1972, expanding the number of available NFL games by one. But that was it until fairly recently with the explosion of satellite television and various packages that allowed fans willing to pay for it access to any game they care to see. I’ve had NFL Sunday Ticket, available only through DirecTV because of a monopoly licensing agreement, for years and never miss a Cowboys game now unless I’ve out of town. (I’ll DVR the games but they go stale pretty quickly even then.)
Even for those unable or unwilling to spring for premium packages beyond basic cable/satellite access, there are now a freakish number of college games available, including a Thursday night game and more Saturday games than you can shake a stick at. The NFL usually has four games available during the day Sunday, a Sunday night game, and the Monday night game. There are also frequently games on Thursdays, too.