|Launched||September 13, 2009|
|Owned by||National Football League|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTV sets)
|Slogan||"Every touchdown from every game"|
|Headquarters||Culver City, California|
|Sister channel(s)||NFL Network|
|Verizon FiOS||335 (SD)|
|Fubo TV||Internet Protocol Television|
NFL RedZone 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). 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.
ESPN Goal Line, a channel which debuted one year later, broadcasts college football with a similar format and style. 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., or five minutes prior to 1:00 p.m., US Eastern time. The countdown clock counts down the minutes and seconds until the start of the game coverage.
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. 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. When the "early" games are in the fourth quarter, attention begins to focus on one-possession games (games within 8 points). Likewise, early games that go into overtime are usually prioritized, but neither 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. 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.
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), whichever comes first. At the conclusion of the coverage, an edited montage of every touchdown scored throughout the afternoon is aired. Due to contractual obligations, RedZone must sign-off no later than 8:00 p.m., even if a late afternoon game(s) is still in progress. 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 falls on a Sunday (and the full slate of Week 16 afternoon games is switched to Saturday), the RedZone is utilized for that Saturday afternoon schedule.
RedZone is not on-air during Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night, and any stand-alone Saturday night games, nor 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 before the 2016, 2017, and 2018 NFL season, NFL Network 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 were re-aired. They were edited for length and content, and had commercials inserted.
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 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, 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.
In the United Kingdom, NFL RedZone is available as a Red Button option to Sky Digital and Virgin Media subscribers. Since 2014, NFL RedZone has aired in Australia on ESPN Australia. ESPN Latin America began to air NFL RedZone in 2016.
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.
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.") Likewise a scoreless, or very low scoring game, will not garner much attention either. 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.
The NFL RedZone channel is similar in format and style to ESPN Goal Line, which airs live look-ins of college football games.
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.
XM'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. 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 the game would check in via telephone with the basic score, scoring plays and statistics for the game.
- Brown, Rembert (November 15, 2012). "A Trip Inside the RedZone". Grantland. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
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- Joseph, Andrew (10 December 2017). "RedZone host takes first bathroom break in 4 years". USA Today. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- The split-screen format for the Touchdown Montage was used on September 21, 2014; at the time in which the Denver at Seattle game went into overtime. The network instructed viewers to switch to CBS if they wanted to see the game out to its conclusion, though it concluded just a minute before off-air time and was taken to full-screen to conclude the day's schedule.
- Dish Joins Comcast In NFL RedZone – Both Distributors Will Kick Off Scoring Ser2009
- Updated: Verizon FiOS Fires Up NFL RedZone Deal – Telco Positions Service As Stand-Alone Network Available On A Full-Season Basis Multichannel News September 10, 2009
- AT&T Adds NFL RedZone To Lineup – Telco Will Position Scoring Service On Its HD Premium Tier Multichannel News September 11, 2009
- Blue Ridge Enters NFL RedZone – Operator Adds 'Scoring Channel To HD Plus Package Multichannel News September 10, 2009
- NFL RedZone on DISH Network – Brings You Every NFL Touchdown American DISH Blog July 30, 2010
- Cox Re-Ups With NFL Network, Adds RedZone Multichannel News August 24, 2010
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