Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts are getting a promotion.
CBS Sports is moving the popular NFL announcing duo to the network's No. 2 NFL broadcasting team behind Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. The move means that Eagle and Fouts will occasionally call the top Sunday game on CBS when Nantz and Simms are off. This year the priority for Nantz and Simms is Thursday Night Football and with 14 Thursday Night games, Nantz and Simms will bypass doubling up on some Sundays.
The move is a significant upgrade for CBS Sports. Eagle and Fouts use humor in a broadcast as well as any NFL broadcast team and thankfully dial down on overhyping coaches and players. As partners, they have worked four seasons (68 games) together. Moving them up to No. 2 -- which means more people in the country would view their work including the playoffs -- will also strengthen CBS's No. 3 team, which is expected to feature Greg Gumbel and newcomer Trent Green following the retirement of longtime NFL analyst Dan Dierdorf.
"I'm thrilled by the news and it just made me reflect back on having partner like Ian," Fouts told SI.com on Monday night. "The chemistry between us just happened. But we have always considered every game we've done to be a big game and it is to the people watching that game. We don't compete with other broadcast teams. We compete with ourselves."
Eagle said on Monday he received word that CBS Sports management was considering the move a month ago. "I'm thrilled that Dan and I get to continue our partnership," he said. "Chemistry is so hard to predict. [CBS Sports chairman] Sean McManus put us together five years ago and he had the foresight that we could be an entertaining combination. It's been an organic partnership. We will cover things the same way. It may be going to a larger audience but that won't change how we approach the game."
Fouts said the partnership has worked because the two share the same traits of humor, honesty and passion. "There are very few guys in the business that work harder than Ian," Fouts said. "When you have a partner like that, nothing will be missed."
Contacted on Monday afternoon by SI.com, a CBS spokeswoman said that rest of the CBS NFL broadcasting team for 2014 will be released sometime this week.
THE NOISE REPORT
SI.com examines some of the more notable sports media stories of the past week:
1. First, the good news for hockey: The television ratings for this year's Stanley Cup Final have been strong. Game 2 averaged 6.4 million viewers on NBC, the most-watched Game 2 on record since 1994. That number was certainly due in part to the big market teams in the series (NBC might have set a record for the series had hockey-mad Chicago been involved over L.A.) as well as the strong lead-in from the Belmont Stakes coverage on Saturday. NBC said the immediate quarter-hour following the Belmont Stakes averaged 9.1 million viewers -- that's a monster number for the NHL.
But hockey still trails the other major sports in this country by significant numbers in national viewership. Part of that is the regional nature of the sport. Games can do very well in local markets but have trouble getting national traction until the conference finals or beyond. NBC averaged 1.68 million viewers for its regular-season games (up 19 percent from last season) while NBCSN averaged 351,000 viewers (down 10 percent from the lockout-shortened in 2012-13). What can networks do to make hockey more television friendly? I asked ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose for some thoughts.
"I would like to see our athletes' personality showing more," Melrose said. "We have great guys. They are funny guys. They have got great stories. I would do a better job of letting people see what our athletes are like. But I would do anything to make the game faster. I think speed is where the game is at. I think for the American viewer, that's what they want to see -- speed. They want to see things happen at a high pace. So all of the rules I would implement would be to make the game faster. I would continue really stressing the hooking and holding in the neutral zone is completely taken away. Anything to do with slowing people up when they don't have the puck, I would really enforce."
Melrose continued his thought.
"I would enforce embellishment totally," he said. "If a guy embellishes, throw the book at him. It's embarrassing. It puts referees in a very tough light and it's totally opposite of what a hockey player is about, trying to cheat like that and pretend you're hurt. For the shootout, I would have the guys not wear helmets so that people can see their faces when they are coming in on a shootout. There are so many shootouts now in the NHL, it's become a big part of the sport, and anything to make that more interesting. Fans love it."
Melrose also suggested splitting the television package, which I agree would benefit viewers.
"I would have loved to have seen the NHL package split like they do in the other sports where ESPN has got a piece of it for cable and NBC could have it for national across the airways," he said. "It works in the other sports. It works in the NFL. Everybody is trying to emulate the NFL. If it works in the NFL, you would have thought it could work in the NHL too."
1a. NBA Finals Game 2 viewership:
2014: 15,006,000 viewers
2013: 14.6M (Heat-Spurs)
2012: 16.67M (Heat-Thunder)
2011: 15.52M (Heat-Mavs).
2. Spanish-language Univision has shown every World Cup since 1970 but like English-language ESPN, this will be their final year televising the World Cup for at least the next two cycles as Telemundo will air the tournament in 2018 and 2022. Philly.com's Jonathan Tannewald has an in-depth look at Univision's World Cup plans and late on Monday night, Univision passed along its commentator and reporter assignments from June 12-June 26.
Brazil-Croatia (Luis Omar Tapia, Diego Balado and Alejandro Berry).
Mexico-Cameroon (Pablo Ramírez, Jesús Bracamontes, Félix Fernández and Rodolfo Landeros).
Spain-Netherlands (Luis Omar Tapia, José Luis López Salido and Mauro Camoranesi).
Chile -Australia (Enrique Bermúdez, Diego Balado and Carlos Pavón).
Colombia-Greece (Luis Omar Tapia, Diego Balado and Hristo Stoichkov).
Ivory Coast-Japan (José Luis López Salido, Marcelo Balboa and Carlos Pavón).
Uruguay-Costa Rica (Enrique Bermúdez and Ramón Ramírez).
England-Italy (Jorge Pérez Navarro, Félix Fernández, and Mauro Camoranesi).
Switzerland-Ecuador (Pablo Ramírez and Jesús Bracamontes).
France-Honduras (Luis Omar Tapia and Carlos Pavón).
Argentina-Bosnia & Herzegovina (José Luis López Salido, Enrique Bermúdez and Mauro Camoranesi).
Ghana-USA (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Marcelo Balboa, Diego Balado and Jorge Calvo).
Iran-Nigeria (Luis Omar Tapia, Félix Fernández and Hristo Stoichkov).
Germany-Portugal (José Luis López Salido, Édgar Martínez and Ramón Ramírez).
Belgium-Algeria (José Luis lópez Salido, Marcelo Balboa and Hristo Stoichkov).
Brazil-Mexico (Enrique Bermúdez, Pablo Ramírez, Jesús Bracamontes and Rodolfo Landeros).
Russia-Korea Republic (Jorge Pérez-Navarro and Diego Balado).
Australia-Netherlands (Pablo Ramírez and Marcelo Balboa).
Spain-Chile (Luis Omar Tapia, Jesús Bracamontes and Hristo Stoichkov).
Cameroon-Croatia (Enrique Bermúdez, Ramón Ramírez and Carlos Pavón).
Japan-Greece (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Jesús Bracamontes and Marcelo Balboa).
Colombia- Ivory Coast (Édgar Martínez, Hristo Stoichkov and Diego Balado).
Uruguay-England (José Luis López Salido and Félix Fernández).
Honduras-Ecuador (Pablo Ramírez, Enrique Bermúdez and Carlos Pavón).
Switzerland-France (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Diego Balado and Marcelo Balboa).
Italy-Costa Rica (Édgar Martínez and Mauro Camoranesi).
Nigeria-Bosnia & Herzegovina (Pablo Ramírez and Carlos Pavón).
Germany-Ghana (Luis Omar Tapia, Hristo Stoichkov and Jesús Bracamontes).
Argentina-Iran (José Luis López Salido and Félix Fernández).
Belguim-Russia (Luis Omar Tapia, Jesús Bracamontes and Mauro Camoranesi).
USA-Portugal (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Diego Balado, Marcelo Balboa and Jorge Calvo).
Korea Republic-Algeria (Édgar Martínez and Hristo Stoichkov).
Netherlands-Chile (Luis Omar Tapia, Édgar Martínez and Mauro Camoranesi).
Croatia-Mexico (José Luis López Salidos, Enrique Bermúdez, Félix Fernández and Rodolfo Landeros).
Australia-SPAIN (Pablo Ramírez, Hristo Stoichkov and Jesús Bracamontes).
Brazil-Cameroon (Jorge Pérez-Navarro and Diego Balado).
Italy-Uruguay (Pablo Ramírez and Mauro Camoranesi).
Costa Rica-England (Enrique Bermúdez, Édgar Martínez and Jesús Bracamontes).
Greece-Ivory Coast (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Félix Fernández and Marcelo Balboa).
Japan-Colombia (José Luis López Salido, Diego Balado and Carlos Pavón).
Nigeria-Argentina (Pablo Ramírez, Mauro Camoranesi and Diego Balado).
Honduras-Switzerland (Enrique Bermúdez, José Luis López Salido and Carlos Pavón).
Bosnia & Herzegovina-Iran (Édgar Martínez and Marcelo Balboa).
Ecuador-France (Luis Omar Tapia, Hristo Stoichkov and Félix Fernández).
Korea Republic-Belgium (Pablo Ramírez, Jesús Bracamontes and Carlos Pavón).
USA-Germany (Jorge Pérez-Navarro, Diego Balado, Marcelo Balboa and Jorge Calvo).
Algeria-Russia (Luis Omar Tapia, Félix Fernández and Hristo Stoichkov).
Portugal-Ghana (Enrique Bermúdez, Édgar Martínez and Ramón Ramírez).
2a. You want a World Cup sleeper? ESPN soccer broadcaster Ian Darke tips Chile and France. "I think Chile might qualify for that Group B at the expense of the Netherlands," Darke said. "I like the look of them. They've got a ruthless side as well as being bright and adventurous when they beat England at Wembley, and they were very good recently as well against Germany. The other team to maybe keep a little look out on is France, surprisingly. It's a team that will either make the final or go home early, sometimes in disgrace. But you look at their draw with Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, they're going to qualify, no question from that group. In the Round of 16, they're liable to be playing somebody like Bosnia-Herzegovina or Nigeria. So I could see them having quite a soft run through to the quarterfinals. Then with (coach) Didier Deschamps, I think they won't have all the temper tantrums they had four years ago. They'll have them pretty much together. Good, young players there with the talent. "
2b. Fox Sports 1 says that it will have World Cup soccer coverage on both America's Pregame and Fox Sports Live, with in-country coverage from Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl and Fox Sports reporter Geoff Schreeves (who will be assigned to the England camp). Studio coverage includes Warren Barton, Cobi Jones, former Dutch international Mario Melchiot and Eric Wynalda.
2c. SiriusXM will air World Cup matches (produced by ESPN Radio) on SiriusXM. Games will air primarily on SiriusXM channel 84 and in cases where two matches are occurring simultaneously, the second match will air on SirusXM channel 85. The soccer-based SiriusXM FC channel will focus on analysis of the tournament.
2d. NBCSN will air a match between Liverpool and AS Roma at Fenway Park in Boston on July 23. The network will air a pre-match show at 7 p.m. ET. Kickoff follows at 7:30 p.m. ET.
3. ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy on what winning three consecutive titles would mean for LeBron James on a historical metric. "I think it would be a terrific accomplishment," Van Gundy said. "Winning a championship is hard and being in The Finals is hard. But a lot about how much you win is who you play with and who you play against at any particular time in your career. So I don't look at his career in Miami as being any more successful than his time in Cleveland. He's just surrounded with better players, weaker conference. I think this guy is an all-time great. I think one of his greatest accomplishments is taking a very average to below-average Cleveland Cavaliers team to The Finals. I think he won 66 games with a starting lineup in Cleveland that I'm not sure would have won 36 games without him. So to me, both places have been ultra-successful. I don't think a guy's greatness is directly tied to his number of championships won because a lot of it comes down to circumstance."
4. A couple of weeks ago I reported that ESPN and Fox were interested in using Landon Donovan as part of its World Cup coverage if he were so inclined. I quoted Donovan's agent in that report; Donovan himself responded last week here.
5. NBC and Golf Channel will air 75 combined live hours of television from the 2014 U.S. Open Championship including 19 live hours of tournament coverage on NBC from Thursday through Sunday.
5a. ESPN will air eight hours of live play in each of the first two rounds of the U.S. Open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday (5-6 p.m. on June 12 will air on ESPN2). The live telecasts on Thursday and Friday will be hosted by Chris Berman, NBC's Roger Maltbie will be in the 18th hole booth to call the play for part of each day. Scott Van Pelt and analyst Paul Azinger will share time in the host role and on the 18th hole each day.
5b. The New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden will host a 30-minute interview show on EPIX titled "Personal with Bill Rhoden."
5c. NPR had an extended interview with NBC Sports horse racing reporter Donna Barton Brothers.
5d. Take the time to watch HBO's John Oliver destroy FIFA.
5e. The Washington Post reported that the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, based in Northern California, has this 60-second ad opposing the Redskins name airing in seven major markets during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. It's brilliantly done.