NFL Network reporter Jason LaCanfora is headed to CBS, in all likelihood trading places with Charley Casserly, who has appeared on NFLN’s draft coverage. That’s all well and good. But arguably the lead was buried in this piece on the move:
La Canfora also will work on the CBS Sports Network cable channel and cbssports.com. CBSSN, says [Sean] McManus, “will relatively shortly be doing greatly expanded NFL programming” — with a Sunday pregame show “a possibility.”
NFL studio programming is huge for ESPN and a big pipeline of content for NBC SportsTalk. CBS Sports Network doesn’t do much of any NFL programming, aside from maybe a fantasy football kickoff show. Creating NFL-focused programming is a good way to fill out the programming day and attract eyeballs unlikely to come for any other reason except Jim Rome. It furthers CBS’ quest to build CBSSN with sports talk and big names if they can’t do it with games.
That CBSSN would be considering a Sunday morning pregame show is a surprise, in part because NBCSN’s future pregame show was announced alongside their re-upping of their agreement with the NFL, and so you would think that CBSSN starting a pregame show would be negotiated similarly. But perhaps this is related to an idea I had: CBS and Fox competing with NFLN, ESPN and NBCSN by giving their existing pregame shows a second hour on cable. The NFL Today would start on CBS Sports Network before moving to CBS, which would do much to build CBSSN’s cachet, while Fox NFL Sunday would hold its first hour on FX, possibly a Fox Sports network if Fox decides to start one. Then both cable networks would switch to fantasy football shows for the last hour (though Fox might do that only if they started an all-sports network) while the actual pregame shows played out on broadcast.
I would expect CBS to announce any expanded NFL programming sometime in August, maybe even within the next month, and we’ll see how it plays out from there.