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Scott D. Pierce: NFL RedZone satisfies fans' hunger for action

Published September 25, 2012 4:29 pm

Overdrive • It's seven hours of nonstop Sunday action — with few bathroom breaks.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Scott Hanson is the hardest working man on television. At least on Sundays.

He's the host of NFL RedZone, which provides nonstop, whip-around coverage of every game (save the prime-time matchup) every Sunday.

"Wolf Blitzer on election night doesn't have to stay as focused as the staff and I do for seven hours straight," Hanson said. "Wolf Blitzer has other analysts he can talk to, and they take commercial breaks on election night. We don't do commercials. I can't think of any other form of broadcasting that requires what NFL RedZone requires.

"Not to mention the physical demands, like having the willpower of a ninja when it comes to your bladder."

Ah, the bathroom-break question. "The No. 1 question I get in my life," Hanson said.

Given that it's a seven-hour, nonstop show and he's the only guy on camera, it's also the obvious question. And the answer is — he gets, at most, one two-minute bathroom break in the latter half of the show. He didn't get a break at all during Week 1 of this season.

"I start watching what I eat and what I drink on Saturday to make sure my body is prepared for the marathon on Sunday," Hanson said.

RedZone — a separate channel operated by the NFL Network — is a live highlight reel. Producer Ken Camera, Hanson and their team of 25 to 30 staffers don't have a day or even a few hours to put it together — they do it on the fly as the games are being played.

"What we try to do is watch the wall of monitors," Hanson said. "And I just imagine if I was the average football fan, where would my eyes go?"

If you're a huge fan of one NFL team, you might opt for NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives you games in their entirety. If you're a fan of the NFL, you might as well watch RedZone, which gives you pretty much everything interesting that happens from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT on Sundays. Sometimes simultaneously, with split screens that give you two games, even four games at once.

"It is a challenge," Hanson said. "But I don't think I've ever watched a highlight show on Sunday night and said, 'Oh, we missed that. We didn't see that. We didn't know that.' We show every touchdown from every game. I don't care if it's a 35-0 blowout, we're going to show you every touchdown."

But it's more than just touchdowns.

"We're going to show you every big hit, every great catch, every controversial moment, every fantastic finish, every big turnover. It's not just red zone, and it's not just touchdowns. We want you to know that you have seen the NFL as it happens when you watch NFL RedZone."

It's a dizzying delight for NFL fans.

Ratings for RedZone aren't available, but the channel now is being carried on 175 cable systems across the country.

"It's thrilling, and it's a heck of a challenge," Hanson said. "And a heck of a responsibility. Because there are fans of every single team watching our show."

And fans of every team want to see their team. Along with every other team. Is it NFL overload? Not for big-time fans. And not for Hanson.

"On Monday morning when you and your buddies are sitting around at work and you say, 'Did you see that catch in the Chicago game? Did you see that block in the Cowboys game? Did you see that run in the Chargers game?' — if you watched NFL RedZone, your answer is going to be, 'Yes,' " Hanson said.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce. —