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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL - Season Sets?
14 replies to this topic
Posted August 25 2010 - 03:04 PM
Not sure if this is the right place to post this or not, but Monday Night Football is a TV show, and a very popular, successful and long-running one at that. For awhile I've had the idea that I would love to be able to purchase season sets of Monday Night Football. Starting in 1970, going through the '70's with Howard Cosell, Don Meridith and Frank Gifford... I think this would be awesome beyond belief and I'd be all over it. Cosell was amazing, I'm a huge football fan and I've got to think this would be huge. I would love to have the original broadcasts, not any of the stylzed, edited NFL films stuff, I don't really like that. Just give me the original broadcast just as it was, and maybe if NFL films needs to get in on the act let them do some extras. Does anyone have any idea how to go about suggesting this to the NFL, ABC or whoever might be able to do something about it and make it happen?
Posted August 25 2010 - 03:41 PM
A few things I should point out. First, not all the Monday Night Football broadcasts exist. While many of them including the first preseason game from 1970 and the first regular season broadcast from 1970 do exist, there are significant gaps throughout the 70s which is the simple result of the poor network preservation practices of sports broadcasts. And ABC, even with its erratic record is still the BEST of the three networks at doing this. Second, the NFL has only in the last five years finally removed its resistance on letting old telecasts be rebroadcast, and they have also released games in team history sets in "Best games ever" for a team if the broadcast exists. I think the only times a couple Monday Night games of old vintage got in one of them was a 1985 Bears set that had all of the games for that season and which would have had two MNF games. The only way you'll see a MNF game released on DVD that's older will be if the game was significant and not for the sake of releasing run of the mill fare games. There are other ways of obtaining old sports broadcasts like MNF but that's not for here.
Posted August 25 2010 - 04:21 PM
For the record, the first year in which all of the MNF games were saved is 1976. Prior to that, only a handful of a games a season were kept.
Posted August 25 2010 - 04:28 PM
I'm aware that there are a large number of collectors and traders around. The games are available, but the quality is pretty spotty. This was the case for many network series tv shows also prior to their official DVD releases, so MNF is no different. The issue isn't whether or not there is a copy of a game that can be had - my thought is as I expressed it, it would be great to have these restored and released in official sets. I certainly would buy it in a heartbeat. Hopefully the halftime shows with Cosell's highlights would be included. The very active trader/collector market should be a testament to the potential demand if a good quality official release were to happen. And its a shame that 1976 is the earliest year that the games were saved, that's a huge loss. Perhaps it could just start with 1976 rather than 1970. In any event I still think it's a good idea.
Posted August 25 2010 - 04:52 PM
I've long hoped for similar things (I'd love a collection with every single Indy 500 telecast from the closed circuit television days to all the ABC telecast, season sets of classic NASCAR action, season sets for Formula One, etc.). Seems destined to remain a unfulfilled dream. There are a few classic races available here and there, but not much. I hoped when Blu-Ray came around that the space available for SD content would make such things practical. But there just doesn't appear to be much demand for watching classic sporting events. It's ashame since I'd rather watch 30 year old auto racing then what is on tv now (And I've seen plenty of football fans, baseball fans, hockey fans and so on with similar feelings). Hopefully someday since this stuff was videotaped and easily transferred that we'll at least see things start to be uploaded in large numbers by the various leagues and tv networks that own this stuff, but I think it's safe to say that physical releases for classic sporting events will never be common or very extensive when they do happen.
Posted August 25 2010 - 05:35 PM
I don't agree that it will never happen. The rights holders here are just slow to catch on. That's not unusual though, I think that its a new idea and the decision makers are stuck in old ways of thinking. I'm a corporate attorney and I can attest to the fact that if there is money to be made, most likely the corporate rights holder is eventually going to catch on and do something with their valuable property. The NFL is by far the most popular spectator sport in the US, and their broadcasts are usually top rated. The Super Bowl is the most watched TV show of the year. As soon as they break out of their old mind set, and realize that they are sitting on top of a vast video collection that could be marketed and sold, it will happen. They also have to break past thinking that everything they have needs to be redone, edited and stylized by NFL Films. The biggest value in their video vault is the old games themselves in their original broadcast format, unmodified by NFL Films. Not being a NASCAR fan myself I really can't really relate to that and I'd personally have no interest, but I know it is popular.
Posted August 25 2010 - 05:42 PM
Originally Posted by Dan-P
Not being a NASCAR fan myself I really can't really relate to that and I'd personally have no interest, but I know it is popular.
Not being a NASCAR fan myself I really can't really relate to that and I'd personally have no interest, but I know it is popular.
It was just another sports example and one which I could relate to (Never been a football fan). But I think what we'd both like to see happen with the sports we're both interested in is pretty similar so that's why I commented.
I can't share your optimism for it. If there was money to be made, we'd of at least seen some of this stuff reaired but even that's been limited. Now networks like ESPN Classic barely even deal with classic sporting events at all, and even when they did, they never dug very deep into their vaults for any one sport. They've shown the same 20 NASCAR races and the same 6 or 7 Indy 500's each May since the network started 15 years ago for example. And I've seen fans of other sports comment similarly. It's the same few things repeated every few months.
And this is videotaped material, not filmed. So there's not exactly exorbitant cost to get new things from your vault to air. If there's that much lack of enthusiasm just to get a old broadcast prepped for reair that you own sitting in your vault for your own network dedicated to such things, there's no hope in my opinion for many home video releases. And that goes double for any extensive ones covering more than a race or game or two.
It seems especially unlikely with the DVD format where you'd basically need to dedicate a entire disc to just one or two events. If Blu-Ray ever gets a large enough install base maybe we could see someone make a go of it with with standard definition content on a Blu-Ray disc, but I really don't see it ever happening with DVD. Something like the last 30 years of the Super Bowl or Indianapolis 500 would pretty much require just about the same number of DVD's...
Posted August 25 2010 - 05:56 PM
You might see games get out if they're historically significant games and above all *good* games. I can envision a "10 Greatest Monday Night Football Games" set in the tradition of ten great games for individual teams, but let's be realistic. Only the hardest core sports nut and sports broadcast history nut would want to watch a game like the infamous 1970 38-0 St. Louis drubbing of Dallas just to hear Don Meredith getting upset and Cosell needling him the whole while. Sometimes great and rare stuff does make it to DVD like Don Larsen's Perfect Game (the kinescope was found only a few years ago), and in the 10 greatest games of the Chicago Blackhawks we get to see the only surviving telecast footage (kinescope) of them winning the 1961 Stanley Cup, and we have the full 1975 World Series commercially released. But again, it has to be tied to a definable theme centering on the games.
Posted August 25 2010 - 05:59 PM
Oh of course, a bit will trickle out especially if it's dealing with something especially noteworthy. I probably own about 10-12 full auto races from various disciplines on official DVD releases for example.
Posted August 25 2010 - 06:28 PM
Funny that you mention ESPN Classic. My memory may have some holes, but I believe that network started as Classic Sports. That was a great network, it showed all kinds of classic sporting events, I remember watching a lot of classic baseball games from the 60's, 70's and 80's for example, and I'm sure other things too that I'm forgetting about now. In any event, I liked that network a lot. Apparently so did a lot of other people. It was on cable satellite systems across the country, and it attracted the interest of the ESPN folks who purchased it and renamed/rebranded it as "ESPN Classic". The programming changed pretty quickly. Instead of being a network focused on showing classic sporting events, it became a pretty generic, run of the mill boring cable channel that actually starting showing things like movies and who knows what else. All I know is I quickly stopped watching it and I don't think they really show much in the way of classic sports anymore. At least the baseball games are nowhere to be found on their schedule. Anyway, I'm not really thinking that televised games should be treated any differently than other televised programs. An NFL season is actually a "broadcast season" and the games are the "episodes". The Super Bowl is the "season finale." Hope that makes sense. If people are following me so far, the traditional thinking with regard to football is that people are only interested in the current season, and not any of the past seasons. I think that's bunk. If I'm a fan of The Simpsons (or whatever show), do I only want to watch the current season? Am I not interested in watching any reruns? Should old episodes of The Simpsons never be shown again? When you think of it that way, hopefully the absurdity of how the NFL has been treating its classic games (episodes) and seasons (seasons) should become apparent. And with regard to the gentleman who suggested that only older games which were really important would ever see the light of day, I also believe another anaolgy would be useful - let's use I Love Lucy this time. Would it make sense only to release the "important" episodes on DVD, with the only ones available being maybe Vitametavegamin and the Chocolate Factory? That's just silly - there are episodes that are better known and more popular than others, but its that way with any episodic series, whether its a sporting event series or a scripted comedy or drama. But that does NOT mean that only the most popular or best remembered episodes should be released. What if the only TV on DVD releases were of the "best of" variety? How awful would that be - people would be screaming for completeness because they want all the episodes, even the bad ones. The NFL is probably the most popular show on TV. Just because there is a current season on the air does not mean that people wouldn't want to watch anything from past seasons, any more than it means I wouldn't want to watch reruns of The Simpsons or I Love Lucy. Just because I know how a game might end is of no consequence and it doesn't detract from anything. I know that Homer is going to eat the donut, everyone who saw the movie "Titanic" knew that the boat would sink, and I know that Lucy is going to get in trouble with Ricky. So what If I know that the Cowboys beat the Redskins in the classic game I'm watching? It makes no more difference than it would make with any other show or movie that I've seen before. The NFL just needs to realize that there's a vast unmet potential for marketing their video vault. Dan
Posted August 26 2010 - 05:44 AM
Dan, the whole analogy with the rest of classic TV just won't fly. I'm saying that as part of the rare breed that *does* collect a lot of this stuff in the means we can't talk about and I enjoy it immensely but I'm also savvy to understand that even amongst the biggest of sports fanatics that I deal with regularly, there is (1) a very limited audience that has that enthusiasm and (2) the logistics of putting together a whole "season" of sports broadcasts is not the same as a whole season of a regular TV show. Many sports fans are of the type that will only want to see their own teams, and won't want to watch another team even if its a great game etc. You're just not talking about the same kind of audience that would want every episode of I Love Lucy etc. and given the costs of producing such a set, it would never sell enough to justify that approach.
Posted August 26 2010 - 05:50 AM
I would think that the best we could hope for from the NFL, or any sport really, is a comprehensive documentary on a particular season, with maybe two or three complete bonus games. However, the NFL is, by far, the best of the major sports entities when it comes to releasing video from their vault. Compare the NFL releases to the output of MLB or NASCAR, and you'll find that there really aren't any releases from either compared to the NFL. Oh, and the NFL does show older games on the NFL Network sometimes... I don't believe they're edited, but I wouldn't know for sure.
Posted August 26 2010 - 05:53 AM
MLB has released its share of stuff. We've had these World Series releasaed in full: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2001, 2004-Present. We've also had other team oriented sets that have released Larsen's Perfect Game, the oldest existing color tape regular season broadcast (9/30/67-Twins vs. Red Sox).
Posted August 26 2010 - 06:57 AM
Originally Posted by Dan-P
Funny that you mention ESPN Classic. My memory may have some holes, but I believe that network started as Classic Sports. That was a great network, it showed all kinds of classic sporting events, I remember watching a lot of classic baseball games from the 60's, 70's and 80's for example, and I'm sure other things too that I'm forgetting about now. In any event, I liked that network a lot. Apparently so did a lot of other people. It was on cable satellite systems across the country, and it attracted the interest of the ESPN folks who purchased it and renamed/rebranded it as "ESPN Classic". The programming changed pretty quickly. Instead of being a network focused on showing classic sporting events, it became a pretty generic, run of the mill boring cable channel that actually starting showing things like movies and who knows what else. All I know is I quickly stopped watching it and I don't think they really show much in the way of classic sports anymore. At least the baseball games are nowhere to be found on their schedule.
Anyway, I'm not really thinking that televised games should be treated any differently than other televised programs. An NFL season is actually a "broadcast season" and the games are the "episodes". The Super Bowl is the "season finale." Hope that makes sense. If people are following me so far, the traditional thinking with regard to football is that people are only interested in the current season, and not any of the past seasons. I think that's bunk. If I'm a fan of The Simpsons (or whatever show), do I only want to watch the current season? Am I not interested in watching any reruns? Should old episodes of The Simpsons never be shown again? When you think of it that way, hopefully the absurdity of how the NFL has been treating its classic games (episodes) and seasons (seasons) should become apparent.
When ESPN Classic started, the MLB and NFL networks didn't exist. Now that they do, I have a feeling MLB and the NFL want to hold onto classic baseball and football games to show on their own networks now. (Wasn't one of the first things that aired on MLB Network Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series?) A quick look at the schedule shows that they do show a fair share of classic sports, but it's mainly college football and basketball, some NBA, and some tennis and golf thrown in.
As for selling seasons of sports on DVD, you have to take something else into account as well - residuals for the players. The MLBPA and NFLPA are going to want a sizable cut of the proceeds, and they do have veto power (since, technically, whoever releases the DVDs - even if it's the league - has to get permission to use the players' names and likenesses).
Posted August 26 2010 - 08:12 AM
As someone who has collected sports broadcasts for over 30 years, I can tell you that when I have friends over and show them different items from my collection, the only two sports which actually can hold people's interest for long are basketball and tennis. Because those are the two sports where you can admire a lot of great shots/points, regardless of knowing the end result. Hockey also to a lesser degree. Sports like baseball and football where something rarely happens that's very exciting, people have a hard time getting into when they know they end result.
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