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Who Will Call MNF and TNF Games on FOX and ESPN?

Brandon Contes

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Fox and ESPN might be competing for the same analyst, attempting to court Peyton Manning to fill the Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football openings, but the networks have their sights set on different play-by-play announcers.

According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Fox is interested in Mike Tirico for their new Thursday Night Football broadcast, while ESPN’s Louis Riddick stated he would like to be considered as the Monday Night Football play-by-play voice.

Tirico is currently under contract with NBC, but now that the network no longer owns the broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football, they have no NFL play-by-play opportunities available for the established announcer. If NBC will allow him to make the switch, Tirico himself might be more interested in joining Fox to continue calling NFL games. Marchand reported Manning would like to work with Tirico, stating the two developed a strong relationship during Tirico’s time at ESPN.

As ESPN attempts to lure Peyton Manning to the Monday Night Football booth, Fox could potentially use the former voice of Monday Night Football as a bargaining chip to bring Manning to Thursday Night Football.

Following Tirico’s departure from ESPN, Sean McDonough has held play-by-play responsibilities for Monday Night Football, but after losing analyst Jon Gruden, the network might choose to replace McDonough as well. According to Marchand, ESPN has considered internal candidates Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy, Dave Pasch and Bob Wischusen, but in Richard Deitsch’s SI Media Podcast this week, ESPN analyst, Louis Riddick, expressed interest in the job which is still held by McDonough.

“This is something that has been a goal of mine and ESPN is very well aware that I am very interested in it,” Riddick told Deitsch. “It is the pinnacle of broadcasting as far as I am concerned, the most iconic position in broadcasting. To be involved with Monday Night Football either as a play-by-play person or analyst is something I am hoping I can achieve.”

A former NFL safety, Riddick spent time as an NFL scout for the Redskins and Eagles before joining ESPN in 2013. With no play-by-play experience, Riddick shared his understanding of how to be a successful broadcaster.

“I have no reservations about my ability to call a game live, to do it quickly and concisely, to not step on the toes of the person who is handling the play-by-play, to working a telestrator, to working an All-22 film video that you would have at your disposal in the booth, to giving quick anecdotes that would keep people informed, to understanding the rules of the game, to understanding the flow of the game,” Riddick told Deitsch. “That is me. That is who I am. You just have not seen that because I have not had that platform yet. I do not say this as someone who is trying to be a salesman of myself. This business is not about what you did as a player. This business is about what you can do as far as analyzing the game of football and communicating it to other people so that they can understand it.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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