ESPN debuted a horrible new yellow down-and-distance graphic Monday night during the first game of its “Monday Night Football” double-header, making fans think there was a penalty flag thrown on every play.
To its credit, ESPN listened to fan feedback and changed the confusing look in time for the second half of its Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints game.
Here is how the graphic initially appeared:
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 10, 2019
That neon yellow color, which ESPN calls “venom,” along with its specific screen location and the way the graphic wipes across the right-hand box in your screen’s lower-third, played tricks on the eyes of fans.
For what it’s worth, when there was an actual penalty called on the field, the box would change to say “FLAG” instead. Still, we’ve been trained by years of that color in that spot meaning a penalty. Also, come on, we’ve been drinking — it’s football.
ESPN had its “Monday Night Football” public relations lead Bill Hofheimer address the graphic via Twitter, the same social media platform where so many complaints had been posted to that point.
“Our ESPN production team is aware of the feedback on the #MNF down and distance graphic,” Hofheimer posted just after halftime. “We have called an audible and adjusted for the 2nd half of #HOUvsNO and for the #DENvsOAK game to follow. New look pictured here.
Our ESPN production team is aware of the feedback on the #MNF down and distance graphic. We have called an audible and adjusted for the 2nd half of #HOUvsNO and for the #DENvsOAK game to follow. New look pictured here. pic.twitter.com/SWLKKuW87w
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) September 10, 2019
That “new look” stuck around the the second game of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” double-header. A person with knowledge of production plans told TheWrap that they “expect the amended down-and-distance in black-and-white to continue” for the remainder of the 2019-20 NFL season.
Kudos to ESPN for making a key halftime adjustment on the fly, just like the New Orleans Saints did. The Saints won 30-28 on a last-second 58-yard field goal by kicker Wil Lutz. New Orleans had entered halftime down 14-3.