Palmer calling signals for 'Net

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The Bachelor has a new reality TV gig. But the roses are staying at home this time.

Rogers Sportsnet has hired Nepean native Jesse Palmer as a guest analyst during the NFL playoffs. And it has nothing to do with the notoriety he gained as the centre of attention on ABC's The Bachelor last year.

"Obviously, he presents well (on television)," said Scott Morrison, Sportsnet's news director. "But Jesse is also a very smart young man. He understands the game well and he's very insightful."

Palmer will appear on Sportsnet News each Sunday until Super Bowl week, then join Jamie Campbell in Jacksonville for daily reports from the big game.

Palmer made his Sportsnet News debut last Sunday, and network honchos were pleased with what he delivered.

"We were expecting good things," said Morrison, who heard several comments later from "people saying how good he was."

Morrison can see a future in television for the New York Giants' backup quarterback, if he decides he wants one.

"He doesn't sound like a jock and he doesn't sound like an Xs and Os coach," he said. "He gets (his analysis) out in a very coherent way.

"He definitely has the skills set and assets to pursue a broadcast career."

NFL KICKS OFF: The wait for the NFL Network is over -- if you're a Rogers digital customer, that is. On Tuesday, Rogers became the first Canadian TV carrier to put the league-owned channel on the air (you'll find it on Channel 192). Digital subscribers can test it out for free for the rest of the month ... Good on Fox for telling whiny Vikings owner Red McCombs where to stuff his request to get Joe Buck taken off Sunday's playoff game between Minnesota and the Philadelphia Eagles. Buck called Viking Randy Moss' faux moon against the Packers last Sunday "a disgusting act" -- the kind of honest opinion TV needs more of, not less.

RATINGS WATCH: The NHL lockout is cutting a serious swath through sports TV viewership these days, but not all the numbers are grim. TSN's coverage of the Mercedes Championship averaged 348,000 over four nights -- the network's highest-rated PGA tour event in its 20-year history, and a 50% jump over 2003. ESPN's ratings for the tourney rose 53% ... The Score is reporting its audience is up 4% among adults 25-54, despite the absence of NHL highlights. The Score's Toronto-Sacramento NBA telecast on Jan. 5 drew 139,000 viewers, its highest Raptors audience ever.

AROUND THE DIAL: Sportsnet has added the Jan. 22 Binghamton-St. John's AHL game at the Corel Centre to its AHL slate ... Canadian figure skating championships coverage from London, Ont., begins Thursday on TSN ... Sportsnet's HockeyCentral offers a different look at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow on Monday's edition at 5 p.m.

WEEKEND PICKS

TV:

1) NFL playoffs, Tomorrow- Sunday, CBS, Fox, RDS, Global (see listings)

2) Spurs at Rockets, Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m., Raptors TV

Radio:

1) NFL playoffs, Today-Tomorrow, Team 1200

2) Frontenacs at 67's, Sunday, 2 p.m., Team 1200


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