Fox NFL makes room at the table of “Big Three” broadcasting networks


Fox NFL is one of the longest-running broadcasting networks for the National Football league. With shows like NFL Kickoff, NFL Sunday, and The OT, fans have turned into FOX for nearly 26 years. The network began their first football telecast in 1994 with a preseason game in August between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49rs and haven’t looked back since. 

History of Fox NFL

In the early 1990s, Fox NFL was growing as a network and has established an initial presence but was not considered a competitor against the “Big Three” broadcasting networks in ABC, CBS, and NBC. Even ESPN was broadcasting Sunday Night Football and attracting a strong following. While soccer had increased viewership, it was not taking care of the market in the United States. That is what led the NFL on Fox to look into telecasting football games. 

Building credibility with Fox NFL commentators

During the late 1980s, Fox NFL Sunday tried to bid for football broadcast rights. After losing out on Monday Night Football and passing on the United States Football league, Fox secured television contracts for both conferences as Sunday and Monday prime time football games in 1993, six years after their first attempt. Fox secured a four-year contract for $1.58 billing. 

In the beginning, Fox lacked credibility. That led to the network poaching football personalities like John Madden, Terry Bradshaw, and James Brown. By purchasing television rights to football, Fox had made a move that allowed them to contend with the “Big Three.” Fox concentrated on the larger markets compared to the smaller markets, which led to a larger viewership from the audience. 

Over the years, we have seen Joe Buck and Troy Aikman hold the fort as the primary commentators. The pre-game show featuring Curt Menefee, Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, and Jimmy Johnson is one the more-watched shows on Sundays. 

Fox NFL coverage compared to ESPN & NBC

To start, Fox NFL is the highest viewed network compared to the other three networks. As for ESPN, since the network doesn’t own streaming rights outside of Monday Night Football, their viewership takes a hit during the season. For the most part, the ratings show that Sunday Night Football is viewed more than Monday Night Football. ESPN ranked either last or second to last in weekly Nielsen ratings. 

Fox NFL vs.  NBC & CBS

After trying to find a seat at the table, Fox NFL is the head of the table. During the 2020 regular season, the Fox led in the Nielsen Ratings 11 of the 17 weeks. During the playoffs, Fox Sports NFL ranked second to CBS by 0.2 points during the Divisional Round, while leading CBS during the championship series. NBC was consistently in the middle, ranking second or third. 

What makes Fox superior?

It’s not that Fox is superior. It’s that they know how to play the game and bring fans to their channel. Fox is good at two aspects of their broadcasting. For starters, they are known for broadcasting the Dallas Cowboys, which is dubbed as “America’s Team.” Even though the Cowboys are bad, they have such a strong fan base that it will attract viewers. Last season, the Cowboys were on Fox six times. 

As for filling out the rest of the slate, Fox tries to get the “big names.” Tom Brady and the Bucs took on Drew Brees and New Orleans Saints once. Those are two future Hall of Famers. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took on Phillip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts on Week 11, which was another battle between two future Hall of Famers. It’s a science of finding what is going to appeal to the audience the most. 

After starting as an up and coming network, the term “Big Three,” shouldn’t be used anymore. It’s definitely a “Fantastic Four.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Jimmy Johnson on FOX NFL Sunday? 

Johnson is still a member of the crew; however, due to COVID-19, he attends the broadcast virtually.

How to watch FOX NFL Games Online? 

You can watch NFL games online by purchasing FOX Now for $5.99 per month.

How much did FOX pay for Super Bowl? 

Fox paid $1.1 billion in an agreement to put the network in a rotation to broadcast the Super Bowl.