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Maverick Carter Talks The Shop on Thursday Night Football

Maverick Carter takes Boardroom through the origin of Thursday Night Football in The Shop, what to expect on the broadcast, and his plans for the show’s future.

A new era of Thursday Night Football and alternative sports broadcasts will dawn on Thursday when LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and Paul Rivera debut Thursday Night Football in The Shop (TNF in The Shop) on Prime Video. Outside of the Uninterrupted trio, an as-of-yet unnamed lineup of additional guests will join the inaugural broadcast.

Across sports, alternative broadcasts have sprung up in recent years. Notable examples include Peyton and Eli Manning’s Manningcast, the NFL on Nickelodeon, Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez’s KayRod Cast on Sunday Night Baseball, and ESPN2’s “NBA in Stephen A’s World.” The ongoing wave provides watchers with a different style of commentary that had not previously existed in sports media. Each one hopes to bring in new viewers looking for a change from traditional sports play-by-play and analysis.

The SpringHill Company CEO Maverick Carter knows this, and he and his team actually planted the seed years ago for what viewers will see on Thursday. SpringHill is the company that houses Uninterrupted, which is the athlete empowerment arm of the business.

“How the show was started was about a real barbershop in a neighborhood that I grew up in,” he told Boardroom. “And in that barbershop, the biggest day in the shop is Saturday. They are talking Friday Night’s high school games, the Saturday games, and then they are talking the NFL.”

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Carter said the idea went through a number of iterations before landing on the product that will debut Thursday. TNF in The Shop will provide a different flavor to alternative broadcasts than what NFL fans have seen thus far.

The Manning brothers’ Manningcast provides in-depth football analysis from two beloved and highly respected quarterbacks along with comic relief (depending on a viewer’s sense of humor). And outside of breaking down the game, guests across sports and entertainment pop on to speak with the siblings. The NFL on Nickelodeon broadcast includes fun and goofy animations, featuring characters from SpongeBob and other properties owned by Paramount Media Networks.

The conversations on The Shop are very much barbershop-like, but more civilized. Featured guests all have a chance to speak, sparking quality conversation and even debate.

These types of interactions are what Carter is hoping for.

“I don’t ever think about controlling the conversation. I think about how do I make sure the conversation is a good conversation,” Carter said. “We are going to have a lot of debates but we are also going to have commentary about the game that is happening too.”

The Shop, which debuted on HBO in 2018, reflects the vision that Mav foresaw in his childhood. It has featured a star-studded catalog of guests such as Barack Obama, Drake, Stacey Abrams, Tom Brady, Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Naomi Osaka, Chadwick Boseman, Patrick Mahomes, Steve Stoute, Roddy Ricch, and many more.

“We are thrilled to welcome LeBron, Mav, and Paul to the TNF family and are excited for fans to join us in The Shop for its first, live broadcast on Nov. 17,” Amina Hussein, head of talent for Prime Video, said in a statement. “With TNF in The Shop, viewers can expect that signature barbershop feel fans have come to know and love, but with a unique TNF take, alongside some of the biggest figures in sports and entertainment.”

Photo via The Shop

A Different Feel

By no means did Amazon need another alternate broadcast. It already has four:

Still, the opportunity was too good for Amazon to pass up. As Prime Video’s Amina Hussein said in a statement to Boardroom:

“The barbershop is known for conversations around the latest in sports, community and culture. In collaborating with The Shop team, we felt it a perfect opportunity to bring together authentic conversation and diverse perspective alongside Prime Video’s premier Thursday Night Football broadcast.”

Photo via The Shop

Unlike both the Manningcast and the Nickelodeon-cast, the hosts of TNF in The Shop will not feature someone who has played professional football.

Carter is unconcerned.

“I would say I’m really knowledgeable about football but I know there’s so much more for me to learn,” he said. “We are going current players, ex-players, coaches [and] people who played. I love to sit and watch a game with a player who is currently playing or an ex-player so they can break down and help me understand even more. When you talk about the knowledge of something, what you realize is actually the people who study the most would tell you they have the least amount of knowledge. Because the more you study something, the more you realize there is to learn.”

Ironically, one of Carter’s favorite people to watch a game with is Peyton Manning — now a peer on the alternate broadcast beat. Carter recalls a story about watching the NFL 100 show where Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed intercepted Manning in a battle of wits between the two.

“He started telling me when he played against the Ravens and Ed Reed was so good [that] when you break the huddle the first person you had to locate was Ed Reed because he played so unconventional.”

He continued, chuckling about the intelligence both Reed and Manning played with:

Photo via The Shop

“Peyton told me that one time in Lucas Oil Stadium they opened the roof against the Ravens and Ed Reed realized where the sun was casting shadows in the field and he would hide in the shadows so Peyton literally could not see him. Things like that are what I love to hear and thrive off.”

The NFL has a swath of knowledgeable former players that could be potential guests for TNF in The Shop. Carter says the essence of The Shop will stay the same as it always has been.

“We definitely want some extremely knowledgeable people in the field of football. Then we want people from outside of football because the shop is all about bringing the community together and people from different walks of life,” Carter said. “When I grew up in my barbershop it was the fireman, it might be the policeman or even the local drug dealer or the student who was brought there by their mom. It was all these different people so we try to stay true to what an actual shop will have in it while also making sure we have people who deliver great conversation.”

Thursday’s debut is the only confirmed episode of TNF in The Shop, but there is eagerness to do more.

“We absolutely would want to expand and look at this as a franchise,” he said. “The NFL and Amazon have been really great partners.”

The Shop Worldwide

Thursday will mark the first time The Shop has attempted an alternative broadcast, but it will not be the last.

“The Shop will absolutely be flexed for sure,” Carter said. “It stands for community empowerment, that feeling, that vibe, it could be emotional, funny, thoughtful or deep. That idea can flex to a lot of different places, sports and otherwise.”

Carter told Boardroom that Uninterrupted hopes to take The Shop international, with different people and hosts, but the same idea that they have built on here in the U.S.

“We’re looking at other geographies and we’re in the middle of looking at how does the shop get launched in other locations around the world because everybody wants that feeling of community empowerment.”

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The thought of The Shop having an international presence is what made the show leave HBO in favor of YouTube. Carter emphasized that HBO was an amazing partner, but because YouTube allows The Shop to be go international with the click of a button, the allure was too high.

The show has already begun its transformation. In July, Uninterrupted and Grey Goose Vodka struck a deal for a mini-series called ‘The Shop: Lineup,’ a shorter iteration of The Shop. No episode is longer than 10 minutes, whereas the original show can range anywhere from 25 minutes to 40. The Shop: Lineup thus far has featured Sloane Stephens, John Wall, Ella Mai, Masego, Prince Royce and Nyjah Huston.

“As we look to expand and keep reaching people where they are, we have actually evolved to making parts of The Shop that are produced for different platforms,” Carter said.

The Shop won’t stop there. As Carter teased:

“People can look for us to keep bringing conversations that people want to hear, with guests from all walks of life. We want to expand it internationally and so we are really looking to build. Up until now with Thursday Night Football, we brought the guests but we want to take it to the people and have even more communities locally, around the world, and in America doing what we are doing in The Shop. People can look forward to that coming next year.”

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