< Back to 68k.news US front page

Best: Peyton and Eli's MNF show worth the watch

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1] [2]

Media executives have been trying with no success to stuff Peyton Manning into a TV booth since he retired after the 2015 season.

On Monday night, Manning took charge, as he always does, and situated himself inside a box of another sort — a video box atop one featuring his younger brother, Eli.

It was part of the latest experiment in sports MegaCasts, in which media outlets supplement or cannibalize or distract from their main presentation, depending on how you look at it.

But this was a big one, featuring the only retired player capable of generating Tony Romo-esque attention as an NFL analyst.

Manning found a way to do it that will allow him to kibitz with his brother, usually not leave his Colorado home, and potentially inspire new, innovative ways to cover sports on television. Oh, and make a lot of money.

Not bad work if you can get it, and again — Peyton generally gets what he wants.

For the first episode, Peyton and Eli worked from the same facility at ESPN's Seaport Studios in Manhattan, but from separate rooms.

The idea was to practice the format they will use for the remaining nine games on their "Monday Night Football" slate, for which Peyton will be in Denver and Eli in New Jersey.

Having them in the same room likely would have produced a smoother, more engaging dynamic, but the goal was to work out the separate-location kinks in Week 1.

They also welcomed guests on separate video feeds, with Charles Barkley in the first quarter, Ray Lewis in the second, Travis Kelce in the third and Russell Wilson in the fourth and overtime.

Did it all work? Mostly, yes.

Early on Peyton seemed to be working too hard to provide energy and goofiness, but as the night unfolded, he turned down the dial from 11 to something more sustainable.

Eli, of course, has had his energy dial set in the single digits since birth.

The two commented on the action during the Ravens-Raiders game while working in brother-on-brother chops-busting and getting insights from their personable quartet of guests.

Will this sort of thing work when one's favorite team is playing on Monday night? Probably not. The bells and whistles and conversational detours presumably will be too distracting for those invested in every play.

But for viewers without a rooting interest, why not try something different, and receive free football education from a pair of two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks?

The Mannings are scheduled to produce 10 of these shows during the season, including the next two weeks.

None of the others have been announced formally, but Eli said before Sunday's Giants game that the brothers would work the Nov. 1 game between the Giants and Kansas City.

All of this is classic Peyton, who seems to have larger, more complicated aspirations than merely showing up on Sundays to sit next to a famous play-by-play man and speak in sound bites for three hours.

His Omaha Productions already had a deal with ESPN that included his and Eli's programs on ESPN+, and now there is the "Monday Night Football" thing, which runs at least through 2023.

Who knows where all of this is headed? But Peyton always has a plan.

While many in sports media were fascinated by the Monday night experiment on ESPN2, the vast majority of football fans watched the traditional telecast on ESPN and/or had no idea about the Manning show.

But as MegaCasts continue to evolve, alternate TV productions could become just as viable as traditional ones.

As it is, many young sports fans don't consume games the old-fashioned way, watching all the way through. So why not drop in for an occasional visit with old numbers 18 and 10?

By Neil Best @sportswatch

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, returned in 1985 after a detour to Alaska and has been here since, specializing in high schools, college basketball, the NFL and most recently sports media and business.

< Back to 68k.news US front page