Gus Johnson debuted a new web video on FoxSports.com which looks to be the first part in a series called "Rise and Fire" which is also the name of his trademarked clothing brand. Clocking in at three minutes it's definitely....something different. Below is the video itself as well as some quick thoughts on the unique direction Fox and Johnson are going...
- Play by play announcers are rarely seen outside of professional or business casual attire. Not only is Johnson dressed casually, but he's aggressively promoting his brand even doing the set to a backdrop of the logo.
- The discourse itself is casual and free flowing. The opening pitch of the series says the show will give "mad shout-outs" to pro and college players and ends with the tag-line "Cold Blooded" which is Johnson's current apparel collection within the Rise and Fire brand. Johnson also dougies as seen in the picture above and brings on a musician friend who he provides backup vocals for in an impromptu freestyle rap.
- Johnson interacts with what he calls the "peanut gallery," a group of friends and possible colleagues who are on set for the taping and potentially part of the production.
Time will tell if Fox and Johnson will find success crafting this different type of content clearly aimed at a younger audience. It's clear though that Johnson has found a partner in Fox that will allow him to step out of his play by play role and produce content with more personality and commentary as well as letting Johnson run wild with brand integration of the content. From the looks of the first video, I wonder if Fox is potentially even an equity partner in Rise and Fire.
At CBS, most felt we never got enough Johnson. Looking at how things are going at Fox, I am guessing that's not going to be a problem. Perhaps Fox is seeing a lot of the success Bill Simmons is having branching out at ESPN and is thinking Johnson might be able to have a similar touch and sense of taste for them as well.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how Fox utilizes Johnson on the web and more importantly, if he gets any more NFL assignments, perhaps even a playoff game (a very big longshot), before transitioning to his work for the Big Ten Network.