As expected, the "major" announcement about the Detroit Lions was mainly about how their preseason games will be televised by WXYZ Channel 7 next summer. This new partnership between the Lions and WXYZ for 2011 will also include a weekly one-hour pre-game show at Ford Field or the site of Detroit's away games, training camp updates, a draft special in April, an interview segment with Jim Schwartz on Monday nights during the regular season, an interview segment with a player on Thursday nights during the season and other "digital elements" on wxyz.com and detroitlions.com.
While some may be a bit disappointed in the sense that this doesn't necessarily qualify as "major" news, it is definitely exciting. Last year I wrote not only one, but two posts that were around 1,000 words each about just how awful of a job WWJ did covering Lions preseason games. WWJ had issues with simply keeping the action in the frame, missing plays because of switching out of replays too late, bad graphics, poor quality with their feed and much more. It was a train wreck, and that's putting it nicely.
My two posts about the coverage of Lions preseason games were titled "Dear Lions, Please Dump WWJ And Find A New TV Partner." Thankfully, they have done just that. Lions preseason games in 2011 will be broadcast by WXYZ Channel 7, which should hopefully lead to a big upgrade in the quality of the coverage. There's no way they can do worse than WWJ, but WXYZ is known for being a pretty high quality television station, and just based on all of the added coverage they announced, it already looks like an enormous upgrade.
One of the interesting things about this news is we don't know if WXYZ will be broadcasting two or four preseason games. Under the CBA that is set to expire next month, teams play four preseason games, but Roger Goodell has made it known that shrinking the preseason is likely in the new CBA. Even if the regular season doesn't expand it sounds like the preseason will be shrunk to two games, which is definitely a necessary change.
The other interesting thing about this is that we currently don't know for sure if there will be any football to broadcast. If a lockout happens and drags on into the summer, it's possible the preseason could be missed altogether. The regular season could be skipped as well, but of course that would be by far the worst-case scenario. I don't personally expect any lockout to cause us to miss regular season football, but it wouldn't surprise me if preseason games are skipped because of a lack of agreement on a new CBA.
Whatever the case, if there is football to broadcast next preseason, Lions games will be done by WXYZ. No, this isn't a huge announcement that is breaking news by any means, but it will be a very welcomed change after the awful coverage fans had to endure last year.