Sunday December 3, 2023

Scott Hanson of NFL RedZone Could Become TV Free Agent

  • The host’s contract expires this summer.
  • He could join a free-agent class that includes Mike Golic Sr. and Trey Wingo.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Scott Hanson, the popular host of the NFL’s RedZone channel, could become a free agent as his current one-year contract with the NFL Network expires this summer.

That potentially positions Hanson as one of the most sought-after sports media free agents in a crowded market that includes the likes of ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, Mike Golic Sr., and Trey Wingo.

The 49-year-old Hanson has hosted all 200 episodes of NFL RedZone, a TV Ironman streak that dates back to Sep. 13, 2009. The show already has more editions than “Seinfeld’s” 180 episodes, he jokes. He’s looking forward to 200 more.

“I love the NFL. The NFL has been very good to me. And I hope I have been very good for the NFL. My hope would be to continue,” Hanson told Front Office Sports in an interview. 

NFL Network said it doesn’t comment on contract negotiations.

By all accounts, the all-in-one NFL RedZone channel has helped revolutionized football viewing. 

The channel has simply become a must-watch for fantasy football players, sports bettors and hard-core football fans.

During the live, seven-hour TV sprint each Sunday, Hanson whips viewers around to every NFL touchdown and big play by simulcasting game coverage from CBS Sports and Fox Sports.. 

Viewers can watch up to eight games at a time using RedZone’s “Octobox.” 

During the telecast, Hanson doesn’t eat lest he gets caught with a sandwich in his mouth on-air. He doesn’t drink coffee. He deliberately dehydrates himself before going on-air. He’s taken one bathroom break in the last decade.

“I am convinced that if I leave I will hear, ‘Lamar Jackson with the most dynamic 99-yard touchdown in NFL history.’ And I’m not going to miss it,” he said. “I will not expose myself to missing the great play that day, that week, that month, that season or historically. I do not want to miss a play. The only thing that could cause me to miss one is a bathroom break. So I don’t take them.”

Every week, Hanson’s loyal viewers look forward to him declaring the “Witching Hour,” when the fortunes of millions of fantasy football players are won and lost.  

RedZone viewers are fanatical. Some have told Hanson they’d give up sex on Sundays before they’d give up NFL RedZone. Others tell him they’d pick RedZone if they had only one channel on their TV set.

One fan tweeted him to say RedZone helps keep her clean and sober since she doesn’t have to go out to bars to watch games.

Hanson said fans still watch every snap of game broadcasts showing their favorite team. Otherwise, a growing number are watching via the live prism of NFL RedZone.

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“Someone once said NFL RedZone is like watching football when God is holding the remote control,” Hanson said. 

There are two RedZones channels. DirectTV’s Red Zone channel launched first in 2005 via the Sunday Ticket package of out-of-market games. The NFL Network’s RedZone launched four seasons later.

Besides the slightly different spellings, both take the same approach: live, whip-around coverage of “early” and “late” Sunday games from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET.

From a strategic standpoint, the introduction of NFL RedZone was a key factor in helping then six-year-old NFL Network gain distribution with wary cable operators. 

Tom Brady told Hanson before Super Bowl LI he watches NFL RedZone on his bye weeks or if he’s playing a “Monday Night Football” game.

Bob Ley of ESPN called RedZone “an innovation that’s a close second to oxygen.” ESPN colleague Tony Kornheiser dubbed it a “life-changing” channel that’s “absolutely fabulous.”

NFL Network doesn’t release viewership numbers or other metrics for RedZone. 

But Richard Deitsch of The Athletic estimates 1 million to 1.5 million viewers tune in every Sunday. As more states legalize betting, viewership will likely increase for NFL Network and DirecTV’s separate Red Zone channel hosted by Andrew Siciliano.

During Hanson’s first-ever NFL RedZone telecast in 2009, when Brett Favre and Peyton Manning were still active players, he told viewers he hoped the channel would “change the way you watch football forever.”

Despite a relatively small team of only 30 or so staffers, Hanson thinks it’s fair to say: Mission accomplished.

“Our NFL RedZone staff is the best staff in sports TV for my money,”  said Hanson, who also hosts NFL Network’s on-location coverage of the Super Bowl, NFL draft, and scouting combine.

“We are part NASCAR pit crew with the speed with which we have to perform. We’re part emergency room OR, with the precision with which we have to perform. And we’re part air traffic control at LAX on Thanksgiving weekend.”

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