Showtime names Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms and James Brown as host of the new Inside the NFL
In another move which may show the balance of power shifting from HBO, the CBS-owned premium cable channel Showtime has announced longtime football analysts Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms and James Brown as hosts of Inside the NFL -- which debuts on their channel Spet. 10 after thirty years on rival HBO.
Rumors abounded that the cost of getting NFL highlights -- reportedly $8-million a year or so -- led HBO to drop the series earlier in 2008 after three decades on air. Back then, sports analyst Bob Costas called the cancellation a "boneheaded" move, and with Showtime already attracting attention with buzzed-about shows such as Dexter, Weeds, Californication and The Tudors, this is another reason to question the brain trust at Home Box Office.
Executives from CBS Sports and Showtime got on the telephone with reporters earlier today to explain the move, which gives football fans one less reason to shell out $18 monthly for HBO and a huge motivation for switching to their rival premium cable network. The open question: does the enormous check the NFL is forcing Showtime to cut worth the extra cachet with subscribers?
The press release follows:
James Brown, Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth will host INSIDE THE NFL when the series launches this September on SHOWTIME The announcement was made today by Matthew C. Blank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Showtime Networks, Inc. and Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports and Executive Producer, THE NFL ON CBS.
INSIDE THE NFL on SHOWTIME will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 10 (9:00 PM, ET/PT). The show, produced by CBS Sports and NFL Films, will air each Wednesday during the NFL season through February 11, 2009.
“It’s a great catch for us to get JB, Cris and Phil to anchor the show,” said Blank. “They are the top football analysts in the game and their collective expertise will give the show the kind of perspective and insight that will add to INSIDE THE NFL’s tradition as the best football show on television. We’re thrilled to have it on SHOWTIME.”
“Bringing together the best NFL studio host in the business in James Brown and two of the most colorful and talented analysts in football in Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth to anchor INSIDE THE NFL solidifies our original game plan to continue to carry on the great tradition and style that has made this show so popular for more than 30 years,” said McManus.