NBC Kickoff Show Pushed to Cable

Obama speech chases pregame to USA, other Comcast channels

President Obama

President Obama’s Sept. 8 jobs speech won’t butt heads with the first game of the 2011-12 NFL season, but it will run up against NBC’s pregame coverage. As such, the network’s NFL Kickoff 2011 show is heading to cable.

At 7 p.m. EDT Thursday, the president kicks off his sixth address on jobs since he took office. In order to clear the way for NBC to cover the speech, the NFL Kickoff show will air on NBCUniversal cable outlets USA Network, Versus, Syfy, and G4. NBC will join the pregame show in progress once its coverage of the speech has concluded.

If you’re a fan of Kid Rock and jobs creation, you’ll have to engage your DVR to record one of the evening’s broadcasts. NBC Sports’ pregame show will feature musical performances by Detroit’s self-proclaimed “Rock 'n' Roll Jesus,” as well as Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5.

The Saints and Packers will square off on NBC at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Given that the president is expected to wrap his remarks in around 60 minutes, the speech should not conflict with the broadcast in any way.

While the president will address a joint session of Congress as Bob Costas, Dan Patrick, and team are warming up the studio show, pregame is nothing to scoff at. Last year’s pre-kick coverage of the ‘Skins-Cowboys opener peaked at 19 million viewers, according to Nielsen. On average, Football Night in America drew 10 million viewers each week, rising to 15.5 million in the final 10 minutes before kickoff.

An aggregated count of viewers who tune in to any of the four NBCU nets is unlikely to top NBC’s ratings on Sept. 13, 2010, as fragmentation generally erodes overall deliveries. 

Naturally, by avoiding the game itself the president has sidestepped the greatest ratings challenge. Last year’s season opener drew a record 27.5 million viewers, and NBC fully expects to top that this time around. And while similar numbers of people have tuned in for previous addresses by Obama—25.6 million viewers tuned in for his March 28 speech about Libya and another 25.4 million watched on June 22 as the president declared an end to the war Afghanistan—it’s worth noting that those deliveries were scattered across as many as 11 broadcast and cable outlets.

Obama initially hoped to speak to the Congress on Wednesday night, but acquiesced to a request by House Speaker John Boehner to move his address up to the night of the 8th, thereby avoiding conflict with a scheduled debate among the eight Republican presidential candidates. The office-seekers will square off in a forum co-moderated by Brian Williams of NBC News and John F. Harris of Politico.

This won’t be the last time Football Night in America will have to deal with a little encroachment. Last season, a number of 4:15 p.m. games on CBS and Fox bled into NBC’s pregame show, and a new NFL rule that calls for all scores to be subject to review will likely add a few more minutes to each broadcast.