This season, the NFL tried something a little new, and no, we’re not talking about controversial rules limiting players “taunting” on the field. Rather, “Monday Night Football,” broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+, included a new alternative telecast hosted by former pro quarterback brothers, Peyton and Eli Manning. 

The show, titled “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli,” breaks the traditional mold of play-by-play announcers discussing a game in a booth or in a studio, by setting itself in a more informal atmosphere, and is hosted by the brothers willing to joke with each other and with guests, while also referring to their wealth of collective experience to provide an inside take of the game’s highlights and lowlights. 

And early reviews of the alternative telecast have been overwhelmingly positive, with nearly two million viewers of some episodes. In response, CivicScience launched its own surveys, to see whether this type of alternative telecast may be the future of sports broadcast programming. 

Our data shows the Manning Show is broadly popular across the general population aware of the show. 

Just over a quarter (28%) of the Gen Pop who are aware of the Mannings’ show have watched it, while another 15% plan to. And while those fans who closely follow the NFL are far more likely to have watched the show, those who only somewhat follow the NFL are the most likely to intend to. 

This is an interesting distinction, because CivicScience data has shown an appreciable decline of respondents self-identifying as “very closely” following the NFL over the last few years.

So, is a telecast program like the Manning Show capable of getting more viewers interested in watching NFL games again? 

Overall, it’s hard to say. While the Gen Pop is largely happy with the level of formality and informality that standard sports telecasts already provide, about equal parts (about 17% to 14%) think the traditional shows are either too formal or too informal.

Interestingly, however, the sentiment that sports telecasts balance formality and informality well is most prominent among those who follow the NFL most closely. 

Those who don’t follow the NFL at all, instead, have much larger proportions of respondents who think telecasts are too formal and too informal. So, the more informal nature of the Manning Show may be helpful in drawing in a crowd not used to watching the NFL at all. 

Further evidence shows that nearly a third of the Gen Pop thinks more sports should have alternative commentary. 

Diving into the data, we see the sentiment favoring alternative sports telecasts is especially popular among younger viewers of professional sports and among those who follow the NFL most closely.

This data perhaps suggests that not only will telecasts like the Manning Show become more popular over this season and those to come, but that other professional leagues should look to adopt the format as a way to draw in younger audiences into the future.