Richard Giannini began his professional career as a sports information director, first at the University of Florida and later at Duke University, where he produced a weekly sports TV program. That experience landed Giannini a job with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) producing the ABC College Football Highlights show in 1976. In this episode, he recalls those primitive days of sports television production and the grueling schedule he maintained.
Broadcast television afforded college football limited nationwide exposure. Giannini discusses how ESPN changed longstanding gridiron traditions by increasing the amount of primetime coverage available. By offering live college football—first on Thursday nights and later Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well, smaller schools could reach new audiences never before possible. However, these new opportunities came at a cost.
With so many sports networks vying for content, college football teams have more opportunities to be seen on TV than ever. Giannini reflects on the hazards of overexposure versus broadcast revenue. He explains how the trend to schedule more weekday games forces families to watch games instead of attending them. This trend, combined with higher ticket prices and streaming internet access, can mean smaller crowds, even as the number of viewers continues to grow.
Richard Giannini served as the Southern Miss Athletic Director from April 1999 – Dec. 2011.