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Suzy Kolber: ‘The Draft is Too Important To Ask Generic Questions’

“That moment is captured forever. It’s the once-in-a-lifetime they just found out they’ve been drafted into the NFL.”

Ricky Keeler

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When you watch the NFL Draft on Thursday night (particularly on ESPN/ABC), you will almost certainly become nostalgic thinking about events from years past. Some of the most prominent memories from past drafts have come during the interviews the draftees do after their name is called. Since 2004, the person who has been doing those interviews for ESPN is Suzy Kolber. 

On the latest episode of the Sports Media With Richard Deitsch podcast, Kolber talked about how she prepares for her job at the NFL Draft. It starts with the Senior Bowl, which she DVRs while covering the Pro Bowl in some years. Then, she usually would go to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine and that’s when she gets to know everything about the potential prospects: 

“That’s just a great opportunity to start hearing the names, seeing the faces, learn the pronunciations, get some of the background. Our friends at NFL Network do such a spectacular job of laying all that groundwork out,” Kolber said. “I am the biggest fan. I am watching that from start to finish.”

On the night before the draft, Suzy Kolber says she makes sure to get to know the players as much as she can and asks them if something is too sensitive for her to ask on stage.

“The night before the draft, these guys are usually assembled at something or they are at their team hotel. That’s my opportunity to get as much 1-on-1 time with as many of those guys as possible so that when they have their biggest moment of their life, I’m not a stranger. I’m a familiar face. We’ve already talked about something we might want to cover. Maybe it’s something sensitive like a parent who has passed or a grandparent who has passed to make sure they are okay with that, how are we going to cover it. Maybe dig a little more into some of the nitty-gritty so that brief interview on the stage is as personal as possible. That’s the ultimate goal.” 

Kolber does not want to conduct a generic interview with a player. The moment is too big for the player and his family. 

“That moment is captured forever. It’s the once-in-a-lifetime they just found out they’ve been drafted into the NFL. The emotions are so high, so that’s why to me, the value is make it as personal as possible. It would be easy to just be generic, but this is one of my absolute favorite events and favorite things I do just because it’s so life-changing and it makes it more fun for me to know the backstory, then the emotion means so much more.” 

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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