|Headquarters||Inglewood, California, U.S.|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTV sets)
|Owner||National Football League|
|Sister channels||NFL Network|
|Launched||September 13, 2009|
|Available on many systems||Consult local listings|
|Sling TV, Fubo TV, Vidgo, YouTube TV|
NFL RedZone (stylized as NFL RedZone from NFL Network) is an American sports television channel owned and operated by NFL Network since 2009. As a "special" game-day exclusive, it broadcasts on Sundays during the NFL regular season from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific), or when the last afternoon window game ends. RedZone provides "whip around" simulcast coverage of all Sunday afternoon games airing in-progress on CBS and Fox.
RedZone is based out of the NFL Network studios and is hosted by Scott Hanson, and airs commercial-free. The channel prides itself on showing "every touchdown from every game," and is closely linked to Fantasy Football, reporting superlatives and tracking various statistical accomplishments throughout the afternoon. RedZone monitors coverage of the traditional Sunday afternoon 1:00 p.m. "early" games and 4:05/4:25 p.m. "late" games.
RedZone is offered by numerous cable providers, Dish Network, and Verizon Wireless smartphones, but specifically is not available on DirecTV, which offers its own version (Red Zone Channel hosted by Andrew Siciliano) as part of NFL Sunday Ticket.
RedZone is also broadcast live internationally in the United Kingdom on the Sky Sports NFL television channel, and in Canada and Italy on DAZN, every Sunday evening and running through the full seven hours. It is a direct simulcast of the American feed, with no commercial breaks, live coverage of both the early and late games and Hanson hosting.
ESPN Goal Line, a channel which debuted one year later, broadcast college football with a similar format and style until the end of the 2019 season. The name "RedZone" derives from the term red zone, which is the part of the football field between the 20-yard line and the goal line.
On game day, the RedZone channel signs-on at 12:55 p.m., US Eastern time. The countdown clock counts down the minutes and seconds until the start of the game coverage. As of December 6, 2020, the channel has featured 200 weeks of coverage since its debut.
Whip around coverage
At 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) the RedZone program begins, and immediately dives into live look-ins across the league. Host Scott Hanson gives a brief introduction of the day, highlighting key developing stories, as teams are typically already lining up for opening kickoff. When the first kickoff takes place, Hanson will say "Seven hours of commercial-free football... starts now!" Coverage of the opening kickoffs and a cursory look at early drives that are being established are the initial focus. Coverage is normally shown in full-screen, with one particular game as the primary focus for the moment. The coverage is a direct simulcast of the CBS or Fox broadcast feed and commentary, with only occasional and usually brief voice-over comments by Hanson as needed. Coverage sometimes switches to split-screen, with two, three, four ("quad-box"), five ("Penta-box"), or as many as eight ("Octo-box") game feeds being shown simultaneously. Producers in the studio monitor all game feeds in-progress, and decide which game to feature at any given moment. NFL television rules are exempted for RedZone, and live look-ins of games that are subject to blackout are still allowed to be aired in all markets.
Whenever a team enters the red zone, the coverage will switch to a full-screen live look-in of that game's television broadcast. It will attempt to cover a potential scoring result (touchdown or field goal). Meanwhile, the other games continue to be monitored, in case the need arises to switch to another feed at short notice. Field goal attempts from outside the red zone are sometimes shown, either live or in replay, if they pose significance to the outcome of the respective game.
As the games enter halftime, the coverage shifts over to games still finishing up the second quarter, even if there are no teams in the red zone. Some noncompetitive games that would otherwise not be looked at may take the attention for a few minutes, in order to fill the broadcast with as much live football coverage as possible. As soon as better games start returning for the third quarter, second half kickoffs typically take a priority.
If there are no teams in the red zone at a given moment, the focus may shift to a team on a strong offensive drive, or an otherwise important game of the day. Despite the channel's moniker, a team does not have to be inside the red zone for the focus and coverage to shift to that game. During the latter portion of the season, extra sidebar attention may be given to teams fighting for playoff berths, and the respective status thereof. The "whip around" coverage also is used to show quick replays of major plays such as turnovers, deep pass completions, very long runs from scrimmage, kickoff/punt return touchdowns, and other potentially interesting or important key plays. The "Game Rewind" feature is sometimes used to replay a significant play that resulted in a particular team entering the red zone.
Hanson rarely takes any kind of rest break during RedZone's seven hours on the air, and since the early years of the channel he has purposefully planned out his eating and drinking schedule during the regular season to avoid any need for a restroom break, having boasted on Twitter on December 10, 2017 (that year's Week 14) about his first restroom break in four years of NFL RedZone coverage.
It is not unusual for RedZone to switch between two or more games in quick succession, even between individual plays. Despite an effort made by producers to air all touchdowns live, some scoring plays are actually aired after a very brief time shift – ranging from as much as 30 to 60 seconds – sometimes because another scoring play is unfolding elsewhere. Time shifting can also occur if the scoring play happened unexpectedly, and/or initiated from outside the red zone. In those cases, the coverage is aired plausibly live with no mention that the coverage is slightly behind real time (though Hanson often tries to introduce the switch with some kind of segue, such as 'while we were watching that (play)...' to note it isn't live video). As the 1 p.m. "early" games begin to conclude, RedZone seamlessly leads into coverage of the 4:05/4:25 p.m. "late" games, though on afternoons where all early game action has ended, extended statistical rundowns and check-ins on team press conferences may occur to fill the time before those late games start. When the "early" games are in the fourth quarter, attention begins to focus on one-possession games (games within 8 points); Hanson will additionally introduce the fourth quarter coverage as "The Witching Hour; where wins become losses, and losses become wins". Likewise, early games that go into overtime are usually prioritized, but never at the expense of missing touchdowns in other games that just started.
As the 4 p.m. "late" games begin to arrive at their conclusions, coverage will likewise narrow down to the remaining games still ongoing. At which time there is only one game left being played, coverage will switch to full-screen and see out its conclusion, irrespective of its competitiveness. When each game is concluded, a final score alert will flash on the bottom corner of the screen to inform viewers. This is especially important for games that have not had a live look-in for many minutes.
Periodically throughout the afternoon, producers keep track of and update viewers on the status of fantasy football statistics, and/or other statistical superlatives. With the legalization of sports betting in several states beginning in 2020, it also points out the over–under and certain betting statistics provided by league partner Caesars Sportsbook. The channel's priority, however, is to show every touchdown scored in every game throughout the afternoon. During the entire day, RedZone features a ticker at the bottom of the screen, updating scores and stats throughout the league. The ticker is situated in such a way that it is superimposed over the respective tickers of CBS and FOX.
On occasion, technical difficulties could prevent RedZone from showing certain touchdowns live. During Week 1 in the 2019 season, a technical issue with the CBS broadcast prevented a live look at a touchdown in the Kansas City Chiefs-Jacksonville Jaguars game; the touchdown was later shown using video from the scoreboard at TIAA Bank Field. Similar issues during Week 2 in 2020 prevented two touchdowns in the Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins game from being broadcast live; both touchdowns were later aired on replay (with one aired from the Dolphins' Instagram feed).
RedZone operates as a commercial-free service; as such, whenever a game taking primary focus goes to a broadcaster-designated commercial break or other stoppage (such as timeout, instant replay challenge or an injury timeout), the feed will immediately switch to the next most-interesting game in-progress at the moment. Despite the network's commercial-free commitment, commercials are not completely avoided as sometimes the network coverage may take a break faster than expected, causing the first second or two of a commercial to air, before RedZone quickly cuts to another game, which usually includes Hanson jokingly playing off the brush with the accompanying commercial with some kind of snark. Additionally, broadcast network promotions of their programming (most notably CBS and Fox promoting their Sunday night primetime lineups) will be shown as a natural part of the coverage.
If all games being held at a given moment are on a commercial break or in halftime, coverage will revert to the studio for brief commentary, replays, or statistical analysis by Hanson. In the "late" timeslot (when there are fewer games to choose from), highlight packages of selected "early" games may be shown during down times.
Touchdown montage and sign-off
The network's broadcast day ends when the final Sunday afternoon game concludes, or at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern). At the conclusion of the coverage, an edited montage of every touchdown scored throughout the afternoon is aired. Until 2018, due to contractual obligations, RedZone was required to sign off no later than 8:00 p.m., even if a late afternoon game(s) was still in progress; this was due to avoid a conflict with NBC's Sunday night game broadcast. This was rectified in the 2019 season, and any game that ends after 8:00 p.m. will continue airing on RedZone until its conclusion. If the RedZone signs-off with inadequate time for the touchdown montage (which can vary from 5–10 minutes in duration), it will be posted online instead. At the onset, the total number of touchdowns for the afternoon by type (offensive, defensive, and special teams) is listed on a graphic, with a running tally for the entire season also shown.
In some cases, when games are running close to the 8:00 p.m. deadline, the touchdown montage has been shown in a split-screen format. The montage is shown in a prominent square with audio, while the game still being played is shown in a lesser square in the corner of the screen without audio. This is done particularly when the game still being played is a nationally-televised game – a situation in which most viewers in most markets across the country (per NFL television rules) could simply switch to CBS or FOX to watch the game to its conclusion.
After the broadcast day ends (≈ 8:00 p.m.) RedZone remains dark until the following Sunday. During the week, as well as during playoffs and off-season, a generic title card advertisement is shown, accompanied by music from NFL Films. However, cable providers may overlay their own tie-in title card. Providers are disallowed from using the channel space for other purposes during its off-time.
While the RedZone channel is only utilized for Sunday afternoon games, in the unique instance in which Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, and the full slate of Week 16 afternoon games is switched to Saturday, the RedZone channel is activated for that Saturday afternoon schedule.
RedZone is not on-air during Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night, and any stand-alone Saturday night games, not for NFL International Series games which are scheduled in an early Sunday morning timeslot. It also does not cover Thanksgiving games or postseason games.
During the offseason breaks since the 2016 season, NFL Network has re-ran the previous season's RedZone presentations. During seventeen selected Sunday afternoons in the spring and early summer, all seventeen weeks of the regular season as seen on RedZone are re-aired, with editing for length and content and ad breaks inserted.
The 2019 re-run of the season was compressed in April 2020 to air throughout the month on consecutive days on a thrice-daily loop on the RedZone channel space, due to the coronavirus pandemic leaving the network wanting of content not involving live studio shows for the safety of their staff, as their facilities in California and the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area were closed due to stay-at-home orders and to allow NFL Network's traditional Draft run-up shows to air. Another rerun of seventeen consecutive days was done during what is usually the pre-season in late August, which was cancelled out in full, leaving the channel without its usual preview night in the last week of the pre-season.
Through 2013, during select nights of the preseason, special "whip around" coverage aired on the primary NFL Network. It followed the same style as RedZone and utilized the same production team and host.
Starting in 2014, preseason "whip around" coverage moved to the RedZone channel itself. On four selected nights in August RedZone aired as part of a free preview of the service for all providers. Week 1 (Friday), weeks 2–3 (Saturday), and week 4 (Thursday) of the preseason featured the familiar "whip around" coverage. The broadcast utilized national and local team coverage feeds, as most preseason games are carried through regional sports networks or 'state/team networks' made up of local broadcast stations. Coverage started at 7:00 p.m. ET
In 2015, RedZone aired a free preview during the preseason for five selected nights, and during Week 1 of the regular season. In 2016, RedZone aired a free preview on four selected nights during the preseason starting August 11 and during Week 1 of the regular season. In 2017, RedZone aired only once during preseason.
The RedZone Channel is available on most American pay television providers carrying the NFL Network, and is presented in both standard and high definition; availability of the channel depends on the service tier. Some carriers might carry NFL Network available on their main digital tier, while RedZone might be relegated to a digital sports tier at an additional cost. Access to the network is available through the Watch NFL Network mobile app via a subscriber's TV Everywhere credentials if offered by their provider, or through a provider's own viewing app. Before the 2018 season, the app was one of the few exceptions where some form of access to NFL games is offered beyond Verizon Wireless subscribers due to that provider's mobile rights exclusivity (That season, Verizon-owned Yahoo Sports opened its live NFL streams to users from other mobile phone providers).
RedZone has generally received favorable to positive reviews, and its product has been referred to as a form of new media. One source of criticism stems from RedZone potentially drawing viewers away from the traditional broadcasts on CBS and Fox, and likewise devaluing the commercial values for advertisers. This was noticed on-air during 2021's Week 3, when Fox's two late games had their FoxBox score graphic on the lower part of the screen adjusted lower than usual, so that the RedZone ticker obstructed the lower half of the graphic, obscuring the regular and play clocks, along with down distance and quarter indicators. Sports media critics though this was meant to frustrate viewers to tune to their local Fox station instead in order to view the affiliate's chosen game unencumbered, during a week when Fox had 100% national coverage for the two late window games. This forced RedZone to overlay its own scorebox and time graphic usually used in 'around the league' segments, rather than compromising the overall picture quality with a screen scaling above the ticker. The late Fox window games returned the FoxBox to the regular position in Week 4.
Other minor complaints deal with viewers not seeing equal coverage of all games across the league, the inability to see outstanding defensive team performances (outside of defensive scores), and emphasis on individual players instead of teams. Games in the "early" time slot that become blowouts are sometimes completely ignored (except for very brief replays of touchdowns to maintain the promise of showing "every touchdown from every game", or merely to fill time when other games are in commercial) Likewise a scoreless, or very low scoring game, will not garner much attention either until the end of the game if still tied. Furthermore, many fans still prefer to watch complete games. Other complaints include middling games without playoff or draft positioning implications being nearly pushed off the channel in the last weeks of the season, with only cursory glances at highlights, fantasy stats, and scores for those match-ups.
DirecTV Red Zone Channel
The NFL RedZone channel should not be confused with the nearly identical Red Zone Channel, a service included as part of DirecTV's out-of-market sports package NFL Sunday Ticket, and hosted by Andrew Siciliano. The two red zone channels operate independently of each other but have similar names, identical formats, cover the same games, and will often show the same game live look-ins at the same time.
ESPN Goal Line
SiriusXM's The Sunday Drive
Apart from the RedZone channel, a similar service is aired parallel on Sirius XM NFL Radio, hosted by "Judge" Steve Torre and Bill Lekas. (Zach Gelb fills in when Torre is unavailable.) During the Sunday afternoon games, The Sunday Drive monitors all games in progress across the league. Any time a team enters the red zone, they will cut-in to the team's live local radio broadcast to cover potential scoring action. Until 2014, this audio was also carried on NFL Network during Sunday afternoon games, overlaid with textual scores and stats to avert any form of competition with the league's broadcast partners. In the past it featured more of a "carousel" type of format where reporters at each game would check in via telephone with the basic score, scoring plays and statistics, as most sports radio networks and stations that do not carry game play-by-play do.
Learfield IMG's College Football Blitz
Similar to The Sunday Drive above, Learfield IMG provides a whip-around radio service for college football that airs on TuneIn and Sirius XM's ESPNU Radio service, for schools that utilize Learfield IMG to produce and distribute their broadcasts. Starting in 2015, College Football Blitz airs on Saturdays during college football season from noon to midnight Eastern time, and like The Sunday Drive, cuts into local team broadcasts for possible scoring action. The show is hosted by Stephen Hartzell, with Phil Brame and Adam Witten sometimes taking over for evening hours.
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Last season , Verizon customers got subscription-free access on phones to whatever CBS or Fox was broadcasting regionally on Sunday afternoons, plus all the nationally televised games on NBC, ESPN and NFL Network. Now, any wireless customer can get them on both phones and tablets.
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