August 01, 2011 3:57pm PT by Marisa Guthrie
NBC Sports Execs Weren't Worried That Strike Would Scuttle NFL Season
BEVERLY HILLS – Now that the NFL lockout is over, analysts and executives at NBC Sports say they were never really that worried that the cash cow would be shelved for the season.
“I always was certainly hopeful that cooler heads would prevail and there would be a season,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus addressing reporters at the division's portion of the Television Critics Association press tour. “There was too much at stake.”
NBC’s Sunday Night Football was the most-watched program in primetime last season averaging 21.8 million viewers. SNF producer Frank Gaudelli said his team wouldn’t miss a beat since they’ve been preparing as if there would be a season all along.
Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said we’ve averted a “national nervous breakdown.”
The league and the players union realized, added Michaels, that they were in danger of “turning people off so they understood they had to get something done.”
“The real winners,” he added, “were the lawyers who won the game about 71 to 1 in billable hours.”
Lazarus added that the exit earlier this year of longtime NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol would not be felt in the network's coverage of the games.
“The quality [of the telecasts] and the story arcs is something we’re all cognizant of,” said Lazarus. “We want, wherever he is, for him to be proud of what we’re doing. That’s something that’s important to all of us. The one place that you will see some differences, is doing some more of what we do live when we can.”