Nets salivate over Jets-propelled sales

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As a storied quarterback lands in New York for the start of the NFL season, the networks are getting ready for the Favre Effect.

After the highest-rated Super Bowl in history and eye-popping ratings for several games in the regular season, ESPN this year has a "Monday Night Football" game that will feature Brett Favre and the Jets three weeks into the season. CBS, which holds the rights to the AFC, has a lot of Jets games on its schedule. NBC doesn't have the Jets through its first seven "Sunday Night Football" games but can use flexible scheduling in the back half of the season.

Favre's jump from the Green Bay Packers to the Jets is music to the ears of those networks at a time when they're selling ad inventory for the NFL regular season. ESPN and CBS are progressing well in the ad sales arena despite a tough economic climate. CBS is seeing CPM increases of the high single digits with strength in auto, insurance and other sectors, said John Bogusz, executive vp sales at CBS Sports.

"Now more than ever, live sports like football continue to be something that advertisers recognize break through," said Ed Earhardt, president of ad sales at ESPN/ABC Sports.

ESPN will have what it thinks will be marquee matchups in the first three Monday night games of the season. Week 1 features the Packers and new quarterback Aaron Rogers. The second week is a Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game that will honor Mexican independence day. And Week 3 has the Jets in San Diego against the Chargers.

ESPN production chief Norby Williamson joked that the Week 3 game was the product of great planning. "We worked with the NFL to orchestrate the Jets at the Chargers," he joked.

But the effects of Favre's trade this month was very much on the minds of CBS Sports, whose lead play-by-play announcer told reporters Tuesday that he has never seen anything like the buzz surrounding the quarterback.

"It's the biggest game of Week 1 that I can ever remember," Jim Nantz said.

Boomer Esiason, a former Jets quarterback who is an analyst for CBS Sports and co-hosts a local sports show on a New York radio station, agreed.

"You wouldn't ever know that the New York Giants existed, and they're the Super Bowl champions," Esiason said. "It's crazy."

Fox, which has rights to the NFC, has two Jets games this year: home games against Arizona on Sept. 28 and St. Louis on Nov. 9.

Meanwhile, Showtime said that former All-Pro lineman Warren Sapp will join the cast of "Inside the NFL" when it begins next month on the channel. James Brown will host, and Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth will serve as analysts with Sapp. (partialdiff)
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