NFL on CBS
|The NFL on CBS|
Logo used in 2006-2013
|Starring||The NFL Today crew
The NFL on CBS game commentators
|Opening theme||See NFL on CBS music|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||5,000+|
CBS Broadcast Center, New York City (studio)
|Running time||180 minutes or until game ends|
|Production company(s)||National Football League
|Picture format||480i 4:3 (SDTV) (1956–1994 and 1998–2013),
480i 16:9 (SDTV) (2013–present),
1080i (HDTV) (1998, 2006-present)
|Original run||September 30, 1956
– January 23, 1994|
September 6, 1998 – present
- 1 History
- 2 Market coverage and television policies
- 3 Digital on-screen graphics
- 4 Music
- 5 TV Ratings
- 6 Alphabetical list of past and present commentators
- 7 References
- 8 External links
CBS' coverage began on September 30, 1956 (the first regular season broadcast was a game between the visiting Washington Redskins against the Pittsburgh Steelers), before the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger. Prior to 1968, CBS had an assigned crew for each NFL team. Thus, CBS became the first network to broadcast some NFL regular season games to selected television markets across the nation. From 1970 until the end of the 1993 season, when Fox won CBS' contract, CBS aired the NFL's National Football Conference games. Since 1975, game coverage has been preceded by pre-game show The NFL Today.
CBS's first attempts to broadcast the NFL on television were notable for there being no broadcasting contract with the league as a whole. Instead, CBS had to strike deals with individual teams to broadcast games into the teams' own markets, many of which were inherited from the defunct DuMont Television Network. Often the games would be broadcast with "split audio" – that is, a game between two clubs would have the same picture in both team's "networks" (the visiting team's home city and affiliates of the home team's "network" beyond a 75-mile radius of the home team's TV market). Each team's "network" has different announcers (usually hometown announcers).
The New York Giants in particular were carried on the DuMont Network, then CBS (New York's WCBS-TV Channel 2) in the early TV days of the NFL, when home games were blacked out within a 75-mile radius of New York City. Chris Schenkel was their play-by-play announcer in that early era when each team was assigned its own network voice on its regional telecasts. At the time, there were few if any true national telecasts until the NFL championship game, which was carried by NBC. Schenkel was joined by Jim McKay, later Johnny Lujack through the 1950s and the early 1960s. As Giants players retired to the broadcast booth in the early and 1960s, first Pat Summerall, then Frank Gifford took the color analyst slot next to Schenkel. As the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL approached, CBS moved to a more generic announcer approach while Schenkel left to join ABC Sports.
From 1956–1959, the Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles only had away games telecasts on CBS. When these three played at home, there was no need for the usage of split audio. Instead, the away teams telecasts were produced in a simple audio/video single feed. In fact, in 1959, 1960, and 1961, NBC had the rights to show home games of the Colts and Steelers. While games were blacked-out (as per NFL policy) in those cities, they were available to other NBC affiliates.
The Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals only did home telecasts for their vast network. So if the Bears played the Colts in Baltimore or the Cardinals visited Forbes Field to play the Steelers in these years, it was likely that the games were not televised by CBS (but from 1959 to 1961, might be shown by NBC).
In 1961, Milwaukee station WISN-TV, a then-CBS affiliate, opted not to carry that year's annual telecast of The Wizard of Oz, running a Green Bay Packers football game instead. In contrast to the infamous Heidi telecast in 1968, the popularity of The Wizard of Oz as an annual TV event at that time was such that the station ran the movie locally at a later date.
On September 17, 1961, CBS Sports broadcast the first remote 15-minute pre-game show, the first of its kind on network sports television. Pro Football Kickoff originated from NFL stadiums around the country with a comprehensive look at all the day's games.
In 1962, the NFL followed the American Football League's (AFL) suit with its own revenue sharing plan after CBS agreed to telecast all regular season games for an annual fee of US$4.65 million. CBS also acquired the rights to the championship games for 1964 and 1965 for $1.8 million per game, on April 17, 1964.
CBS executive vice president James T. Aubrey, Jr., who on May 9, 1963, warned the network's affiliates the high cost of rights for professional sports could price them off television, nevertheless in January 1964 agreed to pay $28.2 million to air the games of the National Football League for two years, seventeen games each season. "We know how much these games mean to the viewing audience, our affiliated stations, and the nation's advertisers," Aubrey told The New York Times. As previously mentioned, in April 1964, he agreed to extend the deal for another year for a total of $31.8 million.
On November 24, just two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the NFL played its normal schedule of games. Commissioner Pete Rozelle said about playing the games: "It has been traditional in sports for athletes to perform in times of great personal tragedy. Football was Mr. Kennedy's game. He thrived on competition." No NFL games were telecast, since on the afternoon of the 22nd, just after the president had been pronounced dead, CBS President Frank Stanton ordered that all regular programming be pre-empted until after Mr. Kennedy was buried. Normal programming, including the NFL, was replaced by non-stop news coverage, broadcast without commercials.
In 1964, CBS experimented with a "half-and-half" format for their announcers. The first half of each telecast would be called by the home teams' commentators while the second half would be done by the visitors' commentators. (This practice would later be revived decades later by the NFL Network when replaying preseason games that were broadcast by local stations as opposed to a national network.) Also in 1964, CBS ditched the concept of using pooled video and split audio feeds. In 1962 and 1963, CBS would provide separate audio for a telecast. For instance, if the Green Bay Packers hosted the Chicago Bears, the telecast would have the same video, Chicago area viewers would hear Red Grange and George Connor call the action. Meanwhile, viewers in Milwaukee and other parts of Wisconsin (Green Bay itself was blacked out) would hear Ray Scott and Tony Canadeo describe the game. Ray Scott was no fan of the separate audio concept and temporarily left CBS for a job calling a regional slate of college football games for NBC. Ultimately, CBS dumped the four man crew and resumed the 1962–63 method for the great majority of games in 1965, 1966 and 1967.
On November 25, 1965 (Thanksgiving Day), CBS featured the first-ever color broadcast of a regular-season NFL game, the traditional Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit. It was only the second time the network's first color mobile unit had been used (it had been used a month earlier to cover the attempted launch of an Atlas-Agena which was to have been the rendezvous target for the Gemini 6 space mission). Only a handful of games during the rest of the season were shown in color, along with the NFL Western Conference Playoff, the NFL Championship Game, the Playoff Bowl and the Pro Bowl. In 1966, most of the network's NFL games were broadcast in color, and by 1968, all of the network's NFL telecasts were in color.
On December 29, 1965, CBS acquired the rights to the NFL regular season games in 1966 and 1967, with an option for 1968, for $18.8 (in sharp contrast to the $14.1 million per year in 1964) million per year.
On February 14, 1966, the rights to the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championship Games (the Ice Bowl) were sold to CBS for $2 million per game. 1967 also marked the last year that CBS had separate commentator crews for each team for about 90%–95% of their NFL games.
The first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game was played on January 15, 1967. Because CBS held the rights to nationally televise NFL games and NBC had the rights to broadcast AFL games, it was decided by the newly merged league to have both of them cover that first game. Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, Frank Gifford and Pat Summerall called the game for CBS. 39.9 million viewers would watch Bart Starr's MVP performance. NBC did have some problems. The network did not return in time from a halftime commercial break for the start of the second half; therefore, the first kickoff was stopped by the game's officials and was redone once NBC was back on the air. NBC was also forced to broadcast the game over CBS' feed and cameras (CBS received prerogative to use its feed and camera angles since the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was home to the NFL's Rams). In other words, NBC's crew had little to no control over how the game was shot. The next three AFL-NFL World Championship Games, later renamed the Super Bowl, were then divided by the two networks: CBS televised Super Bowls II and IV while NBC covered III.
As previously mentioned, in 1968, CBS abandoned its practice of using dedicated announcing crews for particular teams and instituted a semi-merit system in its place, with certain crews (such as Ray Scott and Paul Christman or Jack Buck and Pat Summerall) being assigned to each week's most prominent games regardless of the participating teams.
On December 22, 1968, CBS interrupted coverage of a Western Conference championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Colts in order to show a broadcast from inside the Apollo 8 spacecraft, headed towards the moon (the first manned space mission to orbit the moon, and a major step towards the lunar landing the following July). The interruption began approximately three minutes before halftime of the game, and lasted 17 minutes. CBS showed highlights of the missed action (which involved no scoring) when the network returned to football; nonetheless, the network received approximately 3,000 complaints after the game.
In the 1960s and early '70s, CBS used a marching band-like composition called "Confidence" (taken from Leon Carr's score from the 1964 off-Broadway musical The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as their theme.
Monday night games on CBS
During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time for a greater TV audience. An early bid by ABC in 1964 to have the league play a weekly game on Friday nights was abandoned, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school games. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in prime time on CBS during the 1966 and 1967 seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving AFL teams.
During subsequent negotiations on a television contract that would begin in 1970, Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.
Despite the network's status as the lowest-rated network, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. Only after the independent Hughes Sports Network, an entity bankrolled by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes showed interest, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have pre-empted the network's Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings. There was even talk that one or two ABC owned and operated stations would have ditched the network to carry the games.
When the AFL and the NFL officially merged in 1970, the combined league divided its teams into the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). It was then decided (officially announced on January 26, 1970) that CBS would televise all NFC teams (including playoff games) while NBC all AFC teams. For interconference games, CBS would broadcast them if the visiting team was from the NFC and NBC would carry them when the visitors were from the AFC. This was in line with the NFL television blackout rules of the time, meaning that every televised game of a local NFL team would be on the same channel (at the time, home games were banned from local TV regardless of sell-out status, while road games are required to be aired in the teams' primary media markets, and select neighboring markets as well, even if it is not the most popular team in the market). The two networks also divided up the Super Bowl on a yearly rotation.
By 1971, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the Prime Time Access Rule, which freed local network affiliates in the top 50 markets (in practice, the entire network) to take a half hour of prime time from the networks on Mondays through Saturdays and one full hour on Sundays. Because nearly all affiliates found production costs for the FCC's intended goal of increased public affairs programming very high and the ratings (thus advertising revenues) low, making it mostly unprofitable, the FCC created an exception for network-authored news and public affairs. After a six-month hiatus in late 1971, CBS thus found a prime place for 60 Minutes in a portion of that displaced time, 6–7 p.m. (Eastern time; 5–6 Central) on Sundays, in January 1972. This proved somewhat less than satisfactory, however, because in order to accommodate CBS' telecasts of late afternoon National Football League games, 60 Minutes went on hiatus during the fall from 1972 to 1975 (and the summer of 1972). This took place because football telecasts were protected contractually from interruptions in the wake of the infamous "Heidi Game" incident (as previously mentioned) on NBC in November 1968.
The program sometimes does not start until after 7 pm, due largely to CBS' live broadcast of NFL games. At the conclusion of the game, the network will end its coverage right away and air 60 Minutes in its entirety (however, on the West Coast, because the actual end of the live games is much earlier in the afternoon in comparison to the Eastern and Central time zones, 60 Minutes is always able to start at its normal start time of 7 pm Pacific Time, leaving affiliates free to broadcast local news, the CBS Evening News, and other local or syndicated programming leading up to 60 Minutes). The program's success has also led CBS Sports to schedule events leading into 60 Minutes and the rest of the network's primetime lineup, thus (again, except on the West Coast) pre-empting the Sunday editions of the CBS Evening News and affiliates' local newscasts.
On January 16, 1972, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 in Super Bowl VI in New Orleans. The CBS telecast was viewed in an estimated 27,450,000 homes, the top-rated one-day telecast ever at the time. Although Tulane Stadium was sold out for the game, unconditional blackout rules in the NFL prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the New Orleans area. This would be the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the TV market in which the game was played. The following year, the NFL allowed Super Bowl VII to be televised live in the host city (Los Angeles) when all tickets were sold. In 1973, the NFL changed its blackout policy to allow games to be broadcast in the home team's market if sold out 72 hours in advance (all Super Bowls since the second have sold out, as it is the main event on the NFL schedule, and there is high demand for Super Bowl tickets).
On November 4, 1973, local San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX-TV experimented with a "simulcast" in which the station kept switching back and forth between the network's broadcasts of a San Francisco 49ers game (against the Detroit Lions) and an Oakland Raiders game (against the New York Giants) that were being played at the same time, with frequent cuts to studio host Barry Tompkins. The station received many complaints from viewers, however, and the experiment was not repeated. This resulted in the NFL instituting new rules for markets that had two teams. The rules basically state that teams televised in two markets must play their games at different times in the day or week, and one of the teams must be on the road. For example an NFL schedule for a week might look like this: Oakland at Kansas City, 1 PM; New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 PM; San Diego at San Francisco, 4:15 PM; and New England at New York Jets, 8 PM. See the article NFL on television for more information.
During the October 13, 1974, New Orleans Saints–Denver Broncos game, the broadcasting duo of play-by-play announcer Don Criqui and color commentator Irv Cross was supplemented by the contributions of the first woman ever on an NFL telecast, Jane Chastain. While providing limited commentary, Chastain was used on an irregular basis over the rest of the season.
CBS' 1976 telecast of Super Bowl X between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys was viewed by an estimated 80 million people, the largest television audience in history at the time. CBS' telecast featured play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall (calling his first Super Bowl in that role) and color commentator Tom Brookshier. Towards the end of the game, Hank Stram took over for Brookshier, who had left the booth to head down to the locker room area to conduct the postgame interviews with the winning team.
By 1975, CBS had several themes (technically, CBS had different opening songs and graphics per crew) to open their broadcasts. They ranged from David Shire's "Manhattan Skyline" from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to "Fly, Robin, Fly" by the Silver Convention.
On October 12, 1976, Commissioner Pete Rozelle negotiated contracts with the three television networks to televise all NFL regular-season and postseason games, plus selected preseason games, for four years beginning with the 1978 season. ABC was awarded yearly rights to 16 Monday night games, four prime time games, the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, and the Hall of Fame Games. CBS received the rights to all NFC regular season and postseason games (except those in the ABC package) and to Super Bowls XIV and XVI. NBC received the rights to all AFC regular season and postseason games (except those in the ABC package) and to Super Bowls XIII and XV. Industry sources considered it the largest single television package ever negotiated.
On January 15, 1978, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII in front of the largest audience ever to watch a sporting event. CBS scored a 47.2/67 national household rating/share, the highest-rated Super Bowl to date.
The NFL Today debuts
In 1975, The NFL Today debuted with journalist Brent Musburger and former NFL player Irv Cross, and with former Miss America Phyllis George as one of the reporters. Jimmy Snyder, nicknamed The Greek, joined in 1976. Snyder was dismissed by CBS Sports at the end of the 1987 season, one day after making comments about racial differences among NFL players on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1988. Phyllis George was replaced by Miss Ohio USA 1970 Jayne Kennedy from the 1978 to the 1979 NFL season. George would return in 1980 and stay on through the 1983 season. She was replaced by Charlsie Cantey. 1979 was the first year the Sports Emmy Awards were awarded to sportscasts, among them was The NFL Today.
In 1980, CBS, with a record bid of US$12 million, won the national radio rights to 26 NFL regular season games, including Monday Night Football, and all 10 postseason games for the 1980–1983 seasons. Starting in 1980, CBS frequently used the beginning guitar riff of Heart's "Crazy on You" when they went to commercial. Television ratings in 1980 were the second-best in NFL history, trailing only the combined ratings of the 1976 season. All three networks posted gains, and NBC's 15.0 rating was its best ever. CBS and ABC had their best ratings since 1977, with 15.3 and 20.8 ratings, respectively. CBS Radio reported a record audience of 7 million for Monday night and special games.
In 1981, ABC and CBS set all-time rating highs. ABC finished with a 21.7 rating and CBS with a 17.5 rating. NBC was down slightly to 13.9. On October 18, 1981, Game 5 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos was postponed due to snow. The cancellation of Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS, which was supposed to be televised on NBC that Sunday afternoon, allowed CBS to achieve record breaking, regular season ratings for television viewership of pro football. It was rated as the most watched afternoon of regular season pro football on a single network in television history.
In 1981, CBS changed the game opening music and kept it through the 1985 season. The 1981–1985 NFL on CBS theme was a peppy, fanfare-styled theme. The patriotic-like opening graphic showed the Stars and Stripes morphing into the words "National Football League." For their Super Bowl XVI coverage at the end of the 1981 season, CBS' theme music eventually became the theme for CBS Sports Saturday/Sunday. The music itself, could be considered a hybrid of the then, NFL Today theme and their original college basketball theme. CBS would use this particular theme again at least for the NFC Championship Game at the end of the 1982 season.
Going into the 1981 NFL season, CBS Sports executives decided that John Madden, who had joined the network in 1979 and had worked with Frank Glieber and Gary Bender (Pat Summerall and Madden were first teamed on a November 25, 1979 broadcast of a Minnesota Vikings–Tampa Bay Buccaneers game) in his first two years, was going to be their star NFL color commentator. But they had trouble figuring out who was going to be his play-by-play partner. At the time CBS had reshuffled their #1 team lineup as Summerall's longtime broadcast partner Tom Brookshier was moved into a play-by-play role, and it was not immediately clear if Summerall was going to keep his position or if the network was going to promote #2 play-by-play man Vin Scully, whose contract was nearing expiration, to take over. CBS elected to give both Summerall and Scully chances to work with Madden. Scully worked with Madden for four games in September while Summerall was busy covering the U.S. Open tennis tournament for CBS. Summerall then worked with Madden for four October games as Scully called Major League Baseball's National League Championship Series and World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network and CBS Radio respectively. After the eighth week of the NFL season, CBS Sports executives decided that the laconic, baritone-voiced Summerall's style was more in tuned with the lively, verbose Madden than the elegant, poetic Scully. As a consolation prize, CBS Sports gave Scully the "B" team assignment and the right to call the NFC Championship Game on CBS Television with Hank Stram. Meanwhile, Pat Summerall called that game on CBS Radio with Jack Buck while John Madden prepared to do the Super Bowl with Summerall in Pontiac, Michigan. Vin Scully reportedly was not happy about the demotion as well as (in his eyes) having his intelligence be insulted (at least, according to CBS Sports producer Terry O'Neil in the book The Game Behind the Game). As a result, Scully bolted to NBC (where he started a memorable seven-year run as their lead Major League Baseball announcer) as soon as his contract with CBS was up.
On January 24, 1982, CBS Sports broadcast the highest rated (49.1/73) Super Bowl of all time as the San Francisco 49ers, led by quarterback Joe Montana, defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 26–21. Summerall and Madden called their first Super Bowl together as they went on to be one of the most popular NFL announce teams ever. During the Super Bowl XVI telecast, the telestrator made its major network debut. CBS introduced it as the "CBS Chalkboard" during their sports coverage. Madden utilized the device effectively to diagram football plays on the viewers' television screens. The telestrator is generally credited with popularizing the use of "telestration" during sports commentary.
In 1982, the NFL signed a five-year contract with the three television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) to televise all NFL regular season and postseason games starting with the 1982 season. By this particular time, CBS decided that that instead of using he regular CBS Sports font of that period (a variant of Franklin Gothic), they would rather use the Serifa typeface that CBS had begun using a few months earlier for the titles on CBS News programs. During the 1982 season, the NFL allowed CBS to rebroadcast Super Bowl XVI during the first Sunday of strike. CBS also rebroadcast their most recent Super Bowl (XXI) telecast for the 1987 strike. Also during the 1982 strike, CBS' NCAA football contract required the network to show four Division III games. CBS initially intended to show those games on Saturday afternoons, with only the interested markets receiving the broadcasts. However, with no NFL games to show on Sunday October 3, 1982 due to the strike, CBS decided to show all of its NCAA Division III games on a single Sunday afternoon in front of a mass audience. CBS also used their regular NFL crews (Pat Summerall and John Madden at Wittenberg–Baldwin-Wallace, Tom Brookshier and Wayne Walker at West Georgia–Millsaps, Tim Ryan and Johnny Morris at Wisconsin–Oshkosh – Wisconsin–Stout, and Dick Stockton and Roger Staubach at San Diego–Occidental) and showed The NFL Today instead of using their regular college football broadcasters.
In May 1985, shortly after calling after working the 17th hole at the Masters and calling Game 1 of the NBA Playoff series between Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers, play-by-play announcer Frank Glieber died of a heart attack. Tom Brookshier, who previously served as Summerall's color commentator prior to Madden, replaced Glieber in the NFL on CBS broadcast booth. For the 1985 season, the NFL showed a ratings increase on all three networks for the season, gaining 4 percent on NBC, 10 on CBS, and 16 on ABC.
Beginning in Week 4 of the 1986 season, CBS adapted a theme that has affectionately been referred to as the Pots and Pans (because of the background notes often resembled the banging of pots and pans) theme. This particular theme was an intense, kinetic, synthesizer-laced theme. In 1989, the Pots and Pans theme was revamped to give it a more smooth, electronic style. This theme was also known for integrating the play-by-play announcer's voice-over introduction into the theme, it integrated three voice-over segments, one for the visiting team, home team, and game storyline to set the game storyline into the broadcast. This practice was common with CBS Sports' themes of the 1980s.
CBS' broadcast of Super Bowl XXI (at the end of the 1986 season) was the first NFL game to be broadcast in Dolby Surround sound and in stereo. The postgame show was supposed to feature the song "One Shining Moment" but due to postgame interviews taking so long, CBS never aired it. They ultimately changed the lyrics from "The ball is kicked" to "The ball is tipped", and the song is now played at the end of the network's NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship coverage. CBS also debuted the theme music (composed by Lloyd Landesman) ultimately became the theme used for CBS' college football coverage (which was also the case for the theme CBS used from 1984–1986 after debuting it for Super Bowl XVIII) for the 1987 season (this theme was actually loosely based on the Pots and Pans theme).
At the NFL's annual meeting in Maui, Hawaii on March 15, 1987, Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Broadcast Committee Chairman Art Modell announced new three-year TV contracts with ABC, CBS, and NBC for the 1987–1989 seasons.
Beginning in 1987, CBS started broadcasting NFL games in stereo. On December 8, 1987, Cathy Barreto became the first woman to direct an NFL game at the network television level. (Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions)
On April 18, 1989, the NFL and CBS Radio jointly announced agreement extending CBS' radio rights to an annual 40 game package through the 1994 season.
On Thanksgiving 1989, John Madden awarded the first "Turkey Leg Award", for the annual game's most valuable player. Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles was the first recipient for his part in what would become known as Bounty Bowl I. The gesture was seen mostly as a humorous gimmick relating to Madden's famous multi-legged turkeys served on Thanksgiving. Since then, however, the award has gained subtle notoriety, and currently, each year an MVP has been chosen for both the CBS and Fox games. When CBS returned to the NFL in 1998, they introduced their own award, the "All-Iron Award."
For CBS' coverage of Super Bowl XXIV at the end of the 1989 season, they introduced a brand new theme. The theme was a considerably more traditional and standard (but still peppy and bombastic), theme than the one of the past four seasons. The theme was used until the 1991 NFC Championship Game.
On March 12, 1990, at the NFL's annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, new four-year TV agreements were ratified for the 1990–1993 seasons. The networks involved were ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and TNT. The contracts totaled US$3.6 billion, the largest in TV history.
On September 9, 1990, The NFL Today kicked off with an all-new talent lineup consisting of Greg Gumbel, Terry Bradshaw, Pat O'Brien and Lesley Visser. Gumbel and Bradshaw replaced Brent Musburger, who was fired by CBS on April Fools Day 1990, and Irv Cross, who was demoted to the position of game analyst.
During the 1990 season, Pat Summerall was hospitalized after vomiting on a plane during a flight after a Bears–Redskins game, and was out for a considerable amount of time. While Verne Lundquist replaced Summerall on games with Madden, Jack Buck (who was at CBS during the time as the network's lead Major League Baseball announcer) was added as a regular NFL broadcaster to fill-in.
At Super Bowl XXVI (January 26, 1992), Lesley Visser of CBS became the first female sportscaster to preside over the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation ceremony. The network's telecast of Super Bowl XXVI was seen by more than 123 million people nationally, second only to the 127 million who viewed Super Bowl XX. The 1990 television contract (which was in effect) gave CBS Super Bowl XXVI instead of Super Bowl XXVII, which was in their rotation. The NFL swapped the CBS and NBC years in an effort to give CBS enough lead-in programming for the upcoming 1992 Winter Olympics two weeks later. For this game CBS debuted a new network-wide red, white, and blue graphics package as well as a new theme song (composed by Frankie Vinci) for its NFL coverage that replaced the one CBS debuted for their coverage of Super Bowl XXIV two years earlier. The graphics package lasted until the end of 1995, after which CBS discarded it in favor of an orange and yellow color scheme for its sports package. The new music lasted until CBS lost the NFL at the end of the 1993 season, but continued to be used by CBS Radio until 2002. Several remixed versions of the 1993 theme were used upon the return of the NFL to CBS until the end of the 2002 season, when CBS replaced its entire NFL package with one composed by E.S. Posthumus.
In September 1993, The NFL Today celebrated its 19th season as a 30-minute pre-game show. It held the distinction of being the highest-rated program in its time slot for 18 years, longer than any other program on television.
CBS loses the NFL to Fox (1994–1997)
CBS did not broadcast any NFL games during the seasons from 1994 to 1997, but won AFC rights, taking over from NBC, in the 1998 season. On December 18, 1993, CBS (which had been home to NFL games for 38 years) lost their rights to the then fledging Fox Network. Fox offered a then-record US$1.58 billion to the NFL over four years for the rights, significantly more than the $290 million per year CBS was willing to pay. The Fox Broadcasting Company was only seven years old and had no sports division, but it began building its own coverage by hiring many former CBS personalities such as Pat Summerall, John Madden, James Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Dick Stockton, and Matt Millen.
Fox's NFL rights ownership made the network a major player in American television by giving it many new viewers (and affiliates) and a platform to advertise its other shows. In the meantime, CBS lost several affiliates, and ratings for its other programming languished. In spring 1994, Fox's parent News Corporation struck an alliance with New World Communications, by now a key ownership group with several VHF CBS affiliates in NFC markets, and wary of a CBS without football. Nearly all of New World's stations converted en masse to Fox beginning that fall. To this day, CBS admits that they have never recovered from the loss of affiliates, having never recovered from damage in Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee, where they were dropped to lower-powered affiliates unable to be received in some markets. (Because of satellite television, the NFL Sunday Ticket in local markets, and rules of the time, satellite subscribers were required to use antennas to pick up local affiliates.) CBS later purchased the newer CBS affiliate in Detroit, WWJ-TV. The ratings impact in the three markets where CBS was relegated to lesser-profile stations was significant; the former CBS affiliates were all considered to be ratings contenders, especially during the NFL season. With CBS having been relegated to the UHF dial on stations that had virtually no significant history as a former Fox or first-tier independent station (or former Big Three affiliate for that matter), ratings for CBS programming in these markets dropped significantly. At one point, in Milwaukee and Detroit, CBS was threatening to have to import the signals of nearby affiliates via cable as a result of its difficulty finding a new affiliate to replace WITI and WJBK, respectively. In Milwaukee, for instance, the affiliation switches there resulted in several of CBS' remaining sports properties, most notably the Daytona 500, not being carried over some southeastern Wisconsin systems in 1995 until carriage contracts for WDJT were signed.
CBS apparently underestimated the value of its rights with respect to its advertising revenues and to its promotional opportunities for other network programming. The vast resources of Fox founder Rupert Murdoch allowed that network to grow quickly, primarily to the detriment of CBS. Also, CBS Sports suffered from the fact that in light of their money-bleeding, $1 billion deal with Major League Baseball (1990–1993), it suddenly entered a cost cutting mode. The network had already developed a stodgy and overly budgeted image under Laurence Tisch, who had become CEO in 1985. Tisch was already notorious for having made deep cuts at CBS News and for selling off major portions of the company, such as Columbia Records which was sold to Sony. When CBS lost the NFL to Fox, the problems accelerated as the "Tiffany Network" struggled to compete in the ratings with a slate of programming whose audiences skewed older in comparison to the other networks, even though the network still finished ahead of Fox, whose programming at the time of the NFL deal was almost exclusively limited to primetime and children's programming. One of the few bright spots in terms of ratings and audience demographics for CBS in the Tisch era, the Late Show with David Letterman, which often dominated The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in its first two years, saw its ratings decline in large part due to the affiliation switches, at times even finishing third behind Nightline on ABC.
CBS televised its last game as the rights holder of the National Football Conference (formerly NFL) package on January 23, 1994 when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, 38–21. Before signing off one last time, CBS aired a photo montage of their most memorable moments during their 38 years of covering the NFL set to the song "After the Sunrise" by Yanni.
Attempts at replacement programming
The replacement programming on Sunday afternoons in the fall of 1994 and 1995 involved mostly a package of encore made-for-TV movies, which were targeted towards women in an attempt to offer counterprogramming to NBC and Fox. However, they made very little headway (with some affiliates forgoing the movie package altogether) and by 1996, CBS picked up more NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck races in order to compete in some form.
One of the often cited reasons for the CFL South Division's failure, and part of the reason why the Canadian Football League fell behind the NFL in terms of quality players, was the state of the league's American television contract. The league, which had held a U.S. network TV contract in the 1950s and again briefly in 1982, was then being carried on ESPN2, at the time a nascent channel devoted to extreme sports that was not nearly as widely available as its parent network and only carried a limited number of the league's games (with ESPN itself airing some games to fill in airtime available due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, as well as the Grey Cup on tape delay). It was not until after the 1995 season that the CFL, mainly through the action of its American franchises, began negotiating with CBS Sports (at the time the only network among the Big Four that did not have rights to NFL broadcasts) to see if they could get coverage. However, the negotiations came too late to change the CFL's decision to fold or relocate all of its American franchises, and the negotiations with CBS accordingly fell through. It would not be until several years later that the CFL got a TV contract in the United States, on a much smaller network (America One). Then in 1996, CBS added college football games featuring the Southeastern and Big East conferences on Saturday afternoons. It was the beginning of a rebuilding process that would eventually lead to the return of the NFL to the network.
The NFL returns
In November 1996, Sean McManus was named President of CBS Sports. McManus would then lead CBS' efforts in reacquiring broadcast rights to the NFL. On January 12, 1998, CBS agreed to air American Football Conference games (taking over for NBC as previously mentioned), paying $4 billion over eight years ($500 million per season). The last year NBC had rights to the AFC saw the Denver Broncos, an original AFL team, defeat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, which aired on NBC and ended a 13-year drought against the NFC in the Super Bowl. Around the time CBS took over the rights to the AFC saw the trend of the 1980s and 1990s reverse, in that the AFC became the dominant conference over the NFC (1998 also saw the Broncos win the Super Bowl). The New England Patriots dynasty in the 2000s in the only AFC-only top-ten market also contributed to the ratings surge. In fact, the primary stations for both the Broncos and Patriots are the same as when NBC carried the AFC (until 1995) – KCNC-TV in Denver, and WBZ-TV in Boston (KUSA and WHDH-TV carried those teams' games from 1995–98)
In addition, the current AFC deal also saw CBS indirectly acquire rights to air games played by the Pittsburgh Steelers, which air locally on KDKA-TV (which was a CBS O&O by the time NFL rights were reacquired and has long been one of CBS's strongest stations) and often get the highest ratings for an NFL team on television due to the team's rabid fanbase on a national level. Coincidentally, before the AFL-NFL merger (when the Steelers went to the AFC voluntarily to balance out the number of teams between conferences), Steelers road games had aired on KDKA-TV as part of the network's deal to air NFL games, while home games could not be televised at all during this period, even if they did sell out.
After acquiring the new package, CBS Sports then named former NFL Today host Greg Gumbel, as their lead play-by-play announcer (Gumbel had moved to NBC Sports, working there from 1994 to 1998 after CBS lost the NFL to Fox). Phil Simms (who at the time, was at NBC as part of the lead announcing team alongside Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire) was hired as the lead color commentator. On September 6, 1998, after 1,687 days since the last broadcast of The NFL Today, host Jim Nantz welcomed back viewers to CBS for its coverage of the National Football League.
Given the challenge of making its coverage of the American Football Conference different from that of NBC, CBS passed over longtime NBC veterans Charlie Jones and Bob Trumpy in favor of newcomers such as Ian Eagle and Steve Tasker. According to CBS Sports executive producer Terry Ewert, "We wanted to forge our own way and go in a different direction. We wanted to make decisions on a new way of looking at things." In one stark difference from NBC, CBS used a constant score and clock for its NFL games, a la the FoxBox. CBS' contribution was dubbed the EyeBox.
On November 8, 1998, the first NFL game to be broadcast in HDTV was televised on CBS. That game took place at Giants Stadium between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. It was also the first time two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks started against each other in the NFL (Vinny Testaverde for the Jets and Doug Flutie for the Bills).
On January 28, 2001, CBS Sports, Core Digital, and Princeton Video Image introduced state-of-the-art, three-dimensional replay technology called "EyeVision" for its coverage of Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. In CBS Sports' first Super Bowl broadcast since 1992, it drew 131.2 million viewers for the Baltimore Ravens win over the New York Giants. Super Bowl XXXV was thus the most watched television program of the year. Play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel became the first African-American announcer to call a major sports championship. He was joined in the broadcast booth with Phil Simms.
The NFL playoffs, 2001-02 marked the first time that the league scheduled prime time playoff games for the first two rounds in an attempt to attract more television viewers. Saturday wild card and divisional playoff games were moved from 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm North American Eastern Standard Time (EST) to 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm, respectively. Thus, the league abandoned its practice of scheduling colder, northern playoff games for daylight hours only; any stadium, regardless of evening January temperatures, could host prime time playoff games.
The next group of broadcast contracts, which began with the 2006–2007 season, resulted in a sizeable increase in total rights fees. Both Fox and CBS have renewed their Sunday afternoon broadcast packages through 2011, in both cases with modest increases.
On February 6, 2006, CBS Sports announced the hiring of James Brown, who moved from studio host of rival show Fox NFL Sunday to the host of The NFL Today. Greg Gumbel moved back to play-by-play, teaming with Dan Dierdorf.
CBS decided to not use sideline reports for the 2006 regular season. However, the network did use Lesley Visser, Sam Ryan, Solomon Wilcots and Steve Tasker to report from the sidelines and around the stadium for its telecast of Super Bowl XLI.
In 2006, CBS' coverage of the AFC Championship Game earned a 28.1 rating, which topped the debut of American Idol on Fox. Its Super Bowl XLI broadcast drew the third largest television audience in history, finishing behind only its broadcast of the M*A*S*H finale in 1983 and NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XXX (Dallas and Pittsburgh) from 1996. Super Bowl XLI was second most watched Super Bowl of all-time, averaging 93.1 million viewers.
The Sunday afternoon, October 14, 2007 game between the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys on CBS, was viewed by 29.1 million people, making it the most-watched NFL Sunday game since the Dallas Cowboys–San Francisco 49ers game on November 10, 1996 on Fox (29.7 million viewers), according to Nielsen Media Research data. The game was also the most watched show on television for the week of October 8–14, drawing 9 million viewers more than CBS’ drama CSI (19.8 million viewers), and the most watched program of the season.
As late as 2006, CBS aired only three of its NFL games in high-definition each week, the same number of games it had aired for the past few seasons. The other networks with rights to broadcast NFL games, NBC, NFL Network and ESPN, broadcast all of their games in high definition, and Fox broadcasts up to six in HD. Because of this, some fans accused CBS of being "cheap." Beginning with the 2007 season, CBS began airing 5 of Sunday's games in high definition television on doubleheader weeks, and six on singleheader weeks.
Former CBS Sports Executive Vice President Tony Petitti (who left CBS in April 2008 to become the head of the MLB Network) claimed the network would probably air all of its NFL games in high definition by 2009. When asked about the move, Petitti commented that CBS was focused on building a new studio for The NFL Today pre-game show. However, another CBS executive had previously indicated that, because CBS was an "early adopter" with its first HD game in 1998, it is already "at capacity" and would have to replace newly-bought equipment in its network center with even more expensive equipment. However, CBS did carry its entire slate of games in 2009 in HD, though a few non-essential camera positions for some games (mainly used only in analysis situations) continued to be shot in 4:3 SD.
Beginning with the 2013 season, CBS Sports switched to a 16:9 full widescreen presentation.
With an average US audience of 106.5 million viewers, Super Bowl XLIV on CBS was, at the time, the most-watched Super Bowl ever as well as the most-watched program of any kind in American television history, beating the 27-year-long record previously held by the final episode of M*A*S*H, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", watched by 105.97 million viewers. The game drew an overnight national Nielsen rating of 46.4 with a 68 share, the highest for a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XX in 1986. The telecast drew a 56.3 rating in New Orleans and a 54.2 rating in Indianapolis, first and fourth respectively among local markets. Super Bowl XLV surpassed the record a year later and was itself topped by Super Bowl XLVI.
On December 14, 2011, the NFL, along with Fox, NBC and CBS, announced the league's rights deal with all three networks was extended to the end of the 2022 season. The three network rights deal includes the continued rotation of the Super Bowl yearly among the three, meaning CBS will air Super Bowls XLVII (2013), L (2016), LIII (2019) and LVI (2022).
For the 2012 NFL season, CBS has added Spanish play-by-play commentary of all games to the secondary audio program channel. Also in 2012, to further prevent issues surrounding late games from delaying primetime programming on the east coast (also influenced by other recent changes slowing the pace of games, such as video reviews and the kickoff for late games being moved from 4:15 to 4:25 p.m. ET), CBS officially moved the start of primetime to 7:30 p.m. whenever it carries a 4:25 p.m. game.
Super Bowl XLVII was broadcast for free on Internet television on the host network's website, in this case CBSSports.com. CBS charged an average of $4 million for a 30-second commercial during the game, the highest rate for any Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVII was watched by an estimated average audience of 108.69 million U.S. viewers according to Nielsen, with a record 164.1 million tuning into at least six minutes of the game.
2014: Thursday night games
In January 2014, it was revealed that the NFL was shopping a selection of up to 8 games from its Thursday Night Football package to other broadcasters, including the league's existing broadcast partners, along with Turner Sports. While the league was seeking either a cable or terrestrial outlet, they were preferring the latter.
On February 5, 2014, it was announced that CBS would air eight, early-season Thursday night games during the 2014 NFL season in simulcast with NFL Network, with the remainder airing on NFL Network exclusively. While NFL Network hosts will still handle pre-game, halftime, and post-game coverage, CBS's team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will handle commentary for the games, and CBS Sports will produce all of the games in the package.
Market coverage and television policies
As with Fox's coverage, the network's stations are divided into different groups based on the most popular or closest team to that market or, if that does not apply, based on the allure of a particular game. Each football game is rated as an "A", "B", or "C" game, with "A" games likely being televised nationally and "C" games only in the two teams' home television markets. Significantly more behind-the-scenes resources are dedicated to "A" game coverage.
By NFL broadcasting rules, CBS must broadcast all regional games in the visiting team's home market (and, if sold out, the city the game is being played in), in its entirety, regardless if the game has a close outcome or is a blowout. However, if the game is a blowout, it is allowed to cut to a game with a more competitive outcome in a market that is within the 75-mile blackout radius without it being the home market itself. If a local game is blacked out, the local CBS affiliate is not allowed to show any other football game during the scheduled time of the home team's game.
As an example, if the Buffalo Bills are losing to the New England Patriots by over 20 points in the fourth quarter, most of the CBS stations carrying that game can be switched to another game; however, WBZ-TV Boston and WIVB Buffalo must carry the New England/Buffalo game to conclusion as they are in the two markets whose local teams are playing.
CBS carries all afternoon games in which an AFC team is on the road. Similarly, Fox covers all games in which the visitors are from the NFC. This policy goes back to the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, when home games were not broadcast, and the policy allowed every Sunday afternoon road game to be seen on the same TV station in the visiting team's home market. Prior to 2014, NFC teams were only able to make a maximum of two appearances on CBS each year (AFC teams get only up to two Fox-aired games). Starting in the 2014 season, the NFL has the right to move games between CBS and FOX by way of flexible scheduling, enabling CBS to televise NFC vs. NFC games, and Fox to broadcast AFC vs. AFC games, in the late Sunday afternoon doubleheader slot.
For the past few decades, the NFL has always let CBS be the "singleheader" network during the week it televises the Men's U.S. Open Tennis final at 4:05 pm ET around the country (CBS has said that it cannot justify putting the Men's U.S. Open Final on Sunday night in terms of ratings; the women's final, broadcast on a Saturday night, often outrates the men's final by a considerable margin, except when at least one American plays in the men's final). However due to weather delays occurring yearly since 2009, this has ended up being the slot for the women's final on Sunday afternoons.
Local preseason television coverage
Since the NFL returned to the network in 1998, a number of local CBS stations have been televising preseason football games, mostly including the network's graphics and production that viewers would normally see during regular season national/regional broadcasts.
A number of NFL teams and their broadcasting departments have teamed up with CBS Sports to produce games, and those teams include (as of 2011) the San Diego Chargers (originating stations KCBS-TV Los Angeles and KFMB-TV San Diego), New York Jets (WCBS-TV New York), and Green Bay Packers (WGBA-TV Green Bay and co-flagship WTMJ-TV Milwaukee; the Packers coverage currently uses the NBC graphics package due to both stations being NBC affiliates after the contract left former CBS O&O WFRV-TV, but continues to use a CBS technical and announcing team).
However, there are some that used a few, but not all, elements of the NFL on CBS production presentations, and they are mostly in-house productions between the teams and their individual flagship station. Those include the Pittsburgh Steelers (KDKA-TV), Miami Dolphins (WFOR-TV), San Francisco 49ers (KPIX and KOVR in Sacramento), Dallas Cowboys (KTVT), Cincinnati Bengals (WKRC-TV), Kansas City Chiefs (KCTV), New England Patriots (WBZ-TV), Atlanta Falcons (WGCL-TV) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (WTEV). CBS O&O WWJ-TV in Detroit was in the Detroit Lions' flagship station from 2008–2010 and used most of their graphics and music.
WCBS, KCBS, KDKA, WFOR, KTVT, KPIX, KOVR, and WBZ are all owned by CBS Corporation.
Digital on-screen graphics
From 1998 to 2000, the scoring bug had a half-capsule shape where the score was displayed in white text on a blue background (that contained the CBS eye), below the quarter and time in black text on a white background. The down and distance would pop out from the bottom of the bug in a white box when necessary. It would spin around to show the timeouts left.
Starting in Super Bowl XXXV, the bug took on a more rectangular shape, with the score and quarter/time positions flipped. The scores were now displayed in white text against an orange background, and the quarter and time beneath them in a white text on a blue background. The down and distance and ball location popped out in two separate boxes underneath the main bug.
In 2002, a new bug with more of a horizontal orientation was introduced. The CBS Sports logo that previously adorned the top of the bug was replaced with the CBS "eye" logo in blue and white. The bug was divided into two rectangles, the left one housing the time and quarter and the right the teams and scores, all in white text on blue. As in years past, the down and distance were contained in a pop-out box, also in the blue and white scheme.
In 2002, the graphics package itself remained the same as in 2000 and 2001. However the look was updated in 2003 to more closely match the design of the score box. In 2004 and 2005, the top two games each week were presented in high definition. These HD broadcasts used a score box optimized for the 16:9 frame, the first time that a US network had used graphics optimized for high definition.
The 2006 season brought a completely new graphics theme for The NFL on CBS, including a new logo (which also formed the base of SEC college football and NCAA college basketball logos) and new NFL Today studio set, as part of a network-wide overhaul of the graphics package. The digital on-screen graphics were also changed, with red and a light shade of blue introduced from the new logo. A more complex scoring bug included the new NFL on CBS logo and six circle segments stacked in columns of two emanating from the logo. The first two featured the quarter and time, the next two the team abbreviations (all in white text on the darker blue) and the last two each team's respective scores in black text on a white background. The entire bug was trimmed in the red and lighter blue. The down and distance pop-out changed to a half-ellipse shape.
Finally, when a team scores a touchdown, the columns that emanate from the logo collapse into the logo. The logo then quickly spins around to show the scoring team's logo, a full bar the shape of the combined boxes quickly protruding showing the word "TOUCHDOWN", with the bug sparkling. After about three or four seconds of this graphic showing, the aforementioned animation takes place once more, this time the bug returning to normal. In all instances of points scored, the changed score flashes a few times to indicate a change in score, with a touchdown score changing after the "TOUCHDOWN" graphic is shown. Notably, this score box was not optimized for high definition as the previous package was, even on HD games.
This was also the first time that CBS began displaying constant score updates on the bottom of the screen during all of its games. On the HD broadcasts, this dark blue bar would also show where the ball for that game was at during the time the score was displayed at the right by showing a miniature football field icon. This bar is still being used today.
In 2009, the score bug was changed to a top-screen banner, although the graphics package used from 2006 remains the same. This bug featured, horizontally left-to-right, the CBS "eye" logo, the down and distance against a white background, each team's logo, initials, and points, and then the quarter and time remaining. When the down and distance was not displayed, that and the CBS "eye" logo were replaced by a blue and red "NFL on CBS" logo. When there was a penalty, the word "FLAG" replaced the down and distance on a yellow background, with the penalty description dropping down from below the team's initials; when there is an official review, the down and distance would be replaced by "OFFICIAL REVIEW" on a red background. For challenges, a drop-down below the teams initials with a dark red background shows with the word "CHALLENGE." The play clock would flash red when it would hit 5 seconds and stays red until the play clock is reset. When a team scored a touchdown, the entire bar would change, displaying the scoring team's logo on the left and the team's main color as the background, with the word "TOUCHDOWN" with the letter spacing widening for a few moments before returning to normal. After such, the team's score will be highlighted their color, and the previous score will be replaced by the new score (this also happens when the team's PAT or 2 point conv. is good). After this occurs, stats of players involved immediately appear in the bottom of the banner.
A small white indicator showed on the top of the bar, on top of whatever team currently had possession of the ball. At times, at the bottom of the bar, various player stats (such as quarterback ratings), game stats (such as drive summaries), and situational issues in the game (such as amount of timeouts remaining), would pop open for a few moments whenever it is needed. On Week 3, the possession indicator was changed to a small dot next to the team's logo due to the addition of timeout indicators across the top.
Beginning with September 2011, college football broadcasts on CBS and the CBS Sports Network began using a scoring bug mirroring this one. CBS Sports Network's United Football League coverage in 2012 also used the same graphics package.
As previously mentioned, CBS debuted a new graphics package starting with their coverage of Super Bowl XLVII. Originally optimized for a 4:3 display, the elements are now optimized for a 16:9 display, and take on the now-industry standard of team colors denoting each team, with black with blue accent graphics being used elsewhere in the package. The fonts now mirror that of the package used for the combined CBS/Turner Sports NCAA men's basketball tournament coverage and is named Klavika Medium (which is also used by ESPN), and CBS has adopted the graphics during all of their sports programming. To coincide with this, CBS switched to a 16:9 aspect ratio letterbox format presentation in compliance with the AFD #10 code. As a result, the network's standard-definition feed now shows a down-scaled version of the 16:9 letterbox picture, matching that of the NFL on Fox, ESPN's Monday Night Football and the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football.
Through 17 weeks of the 2008 season (September 4 – December 28, 2008), the NFL on CBS' regular-season games were seen by an estimated 150.9 million viewers, +14% higher than NBC’s 132.4 million viewers, +3% higher than Fox’s 146.9 million viewers, and +52% higher than ESPN’s 99.4 million. The cumulative audience is based on Total Viewers (Persons 2+) who have watched at least six minutes of NFL game coverage since the start of the 2008 regular-season.
- 2009: 19.509 million (Post Gun; 7 airings) 
- 2013: 26.5 million viewers (first 13 weeks)
Alphabetical list of past and present commentators
NFL on CBS commentator pairings
- "NFL on CBS gears up for Game Number 5,000". Sportsnewser. November 22, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Adams, Val. "C.B.S. Relents: Ignores Own Warning on Spiraling Costs." The New York Times. April 26, 1964. X17.
- Adams, Val. "C.B.S.-TV to Pay $28.2 Million For 2-Year Pro Football Rights." The New York Times. January 25, 1964. 1.
- Brady, Dave (November 24, 1963). "It's Tradition To Carry on, Rozelle Says". The Washington Post. p. C2.
- "CBS TV audio from 1965 NFL Championship game". Classic TV Sports. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
- Madsen 15
- "The first telecast for the team of Pat Summerall and John Madden". Classic Sports TV and Media. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "History of #1 analyst demotions". Classic Sports TV and Media. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- Steve Wulf (December 27, 1993). "Out Foxed: Rupert Murdoch's upstart network snatched the NFL from CBS in a coup that will change the face of televised sports". Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "NBC Gets Final N.F.L. Contract While CBS Gets Its Sundays Off". The New York Times. 21 December 1993. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- Carter, Bill (15 May 1995). "Letterman in London, Seeking Boost at Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- BIRMINGHAM JOINS LIST OF HOMELESS BALTIMORE STALLIONS WEIGHING OPTIONS, TOO, AFTER BROWNS DROP BOMBSHELL. The Virginian-Pilot. 7 November 1995.
- Kent, Milton (4 September 1998). "CBS mood positively 'electric' after reconnecting with NFL Intercepting AFC games caps network's comeback from rights turnover in '94". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "The Big Picture: More than meets the eye in CBS pro football trade". Post-gazette.com. June 24, 2004. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "Best and worst of NFL on TV". Sports Illustrated. February 8, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "CBS Eye-lert to Tip Off Viewers to Overruns". Mediaweek.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "CBS' Pats/Cowboys Matchup Reaches 29.1 Mil". Mediaweek.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "Patriots-Colts, CBS: It was dubbed Super Bowl 41½ and it attracted an audience worthy of, well, American Idol. CBS drew a 20.1 rating and 33.8 million viewers for the Patriots-Colts game on November 4, the highest-rated regular-season Sunday-afternoon NFL telecast on any network since Fox drew a 22.2 for a Cowboys-49ers game in '96. The game was the highest-rated program since the Academy Awards. If only those viewers would tune into Katie Couric". Sports Illustrated.
- "CBS: The 'C' Stands For Cheap". Tvpredictions.com. September 8, 2006. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- Schedules – CBS Sportsline. CBSSportsline.com. August 19, 2007.
- Flipping channels. SignOnSanDiego.com. April 20, 2007.
- Why CBS Sports isn't 100% HD | TV Barn[dead link]
- Deans, James (February 8, 2010). "Super Bowl ends MASH finale's 27-year reign as most-watched US TV show". The Guardian (London). Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Super Bowl XLIV most watched Super Bowl of all time/ Nielsen Blogs
- Seidman, Robert (February 7, 2011). "Super Bowl XLV Breaks Viewing Record, Averages 111 Million Viewers". tvbythenumbers.com.
- Bauder, David (February 6, 2012). "Super Bowl Ratings Record: Giants-Patriots Game Is Highest-Rated TV Show In US History". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
- Fang, Ken (November 28 28). "CBS Sports Previews NFL Week 12". Fangsbites.com. Wordpress. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "CBS AND NFL REACH NEW NINE-YEAR BROADCAST RIGHTS AGREEMENT THROUGH 2022 SEASON". CBS Sports. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- ""NFL on CBS" To Simulcast Every Game of 2012–2013 Season in Spanish via SAP". CBS Sports. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Carter, Bill. "CBS Adjusts Schedule to Account for Longer N.F.L. Games". Media Decoder. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Heitner, Darren (April 18, 2013). "Is It Worth Spending $4 Million On A Super Bowl Commercial?". Forbes. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
- Collins, Scott (February 5, 2013). "Super Bowl ratings dip slightly from last year". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "Forums Archive - TV Media Insights - TV Ratings & News - Network TV Show Reviews and Daily Ratings". TV Media Insights.
- "N.F.L. Explores New TV Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Sources: NFL Wants Thursday Games Simulcast On NFL Network". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Sources: ABC Planning To Bid For Thursday Night NFL Package". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "NFL Expected to Receive Bids to Air Thursday Games". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "CBS to broadcast eight Thursday night football games in 2014". CBS Sports. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- "CBS to broadcast NFL games on Thursday in 2014". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Best, Neil (December 14, 2011). "NFL renews lucrative TV deals". Newsday. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- Sports Media Watch: NFL on CBS
- Super Bowl XVIII – L.A. Raiders 38, Redskins 9 at the Wayback Machine (archived November 14, 2001)
- Super Bowl XXI – Giants 39, Broncos 20 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 24, 2001)
- Super Bowl XXIV – 49ers 55, Broncos 10 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 24, 2001)
- Super Bowl XXVI – Redskins 37, Bills 24 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 24, 2001)
- CBS: The 'C' Stands For Cheap
- CBS Needs To Regain Lost Glory
- Golden years for CBS, NFL
- Fang's Bites – CBS Sports (NFL)
NBC and DuMont
|National Football League broadcaster
(with NBC from 1956–63)
1956 – 1969
|National Football Conference broadcaster
|American Football Conference broadcaster
1998 – Present
|NFL Thursday Night Football broadcaster (with NFL Network)