You just don’t hear people in the sports radio business say negative things about Lincoln Kennedy. I’ve heard the opposite many times — person after person raving about him instead of being critical. Linc is one of the most highly respected individuals in the broadcasting business. It’s easy to tell why there is zero chance all of the praise is made up — he’s a genuine guy. Broadcasters also don’t dream up positive comments that are untrue about other broadcasters.
Lincoln has moved to the radio booth alongside Brent Musburger this year to serve as the color commentator for Oakland Raiders broadcasts. He talks about the transition as well as his approach to calling games. Lincoln also serves as an analyst and commentator for the Pac-12 Network and co-hosts The Fellas each Saturday morning from 6-10am ET on FOX Sports Radio with Anthony Gargano.
Striving to avoid being known as a homer is a big deal to Lincoln. He also reveals what gives him the most satisfaction about being a broadcaster. Lincoln describes some of his former radio partners and provides a hilarious summary of The Marine, in which he made a cameo appearance. Let’s just say Linc isn’t beaming about the movie the same way people beam about him.
Brian Noe: What do you enjoy the most about calling Raider games in the booth?
Lincoln Kennedy: I guess it’s a way for me to be around the game, be a part of the game, but not actually physically playing the game. I never thought I was going to be in broadcasting, so when I found my way to FOX Sports Radio, things kind of went from there. Given the opportunity to be a commentator — and I jumped at that opportunity — has been somewhat rewarding for what it’s worth.
Noe: Do you look back now and say, “I didn’t even know I was going to be in broadcasting at all and now I’m calling games in the booth”? Do you pinch yourself when it comes to that?
LK: For a number of reasons that’s true. I also pinch myself for the fact that I’m working next to a legend in Brent Musburger. Greg Papa was very good to me and he helped me out. I owe him a large debt of gratitude for getting me up to speed on how to do the things efficiently and effectively in the booth, especially for radio, because radio is a different calling aspect than it is for TV. There are differences between the two that you have to be able to switch back and forth like I do. That’s one of the other things that’s rewarding about it.
Noe: As a broadcaster how do you handle feedback from fans who are upset with the Raiders moving to Vegas pretty soon?
LK: You just be honest. You know, Brian, one of the things that I wanted to do when I got into broadcasting and started taking it as a profession, was I wanted to develop a voice. The way I look at it, my thoughts are I call it like I see it. I don’t pull any punches. I didn’t want to be described as a homer just because I was affiliated with the Raiders. That was a big deal to me.
Naturally when the news came down — and my affiliation with the organization as well as my affinity to the city of Oakland — I was disappointed. I was disappointed that they couldn’t get anything done. I also said within that time frame — I’ve been around this organization for 26 years — in that time they had many opportunities to get a stadium done. It just never happened. The team, to me, is one of the more iconic teams in professional sports. The fact that they have to share a stadium with a baseball team is embarrassing.
You point out those facts to people and then they kind of see it your way. Yeah, they’re losing their team. No doubt about it. It sucks. You also have to remember it’s a business and a lot of fans do agree, look they deserve their own stadium. They should have their own stadium. Why hasn’t anything gotten done? It’s sad that it had to come to this.
Noe: When it comes to developing your own voice and not being a homer — there are a lot of franchises that are very controlling in terms of the message that comes out. Has that ever been the situation with the Raiders where they say, “Hey, we want you to lean heavy in favor of the team”?
LK: No, that’s never been the case. The only time that’s ever happened to me — where somebody tries to steer your opinion or tell you which way that you should take the conversation — was when I was with the NFL Network. That was the only time. Other than that, you’ve got to be mindful. You can’t be too critical of the organization you work for. I think that there have been guys who have done that in the past and they haven’t lasted for very long because everything gets out. Everything’s heard. No one’s ever tried to censor me or tell me to steer clear or lean heavy one way or the other. Like I said I just call it like I see it.
Noe: Was it ever difficult that you couldn’t be completely honest when you worked for NFL Network?
LK: Yeah, it was difficult. The way I felt, especially living in this country you have freedom of speech. If somebody comes up and asks you a question, for example, “Why aren’t there more minority coaches in the National Football League?” When the question was posed to me, I thought because, “Hey, it’s a good ol’ boy network and they don’t want them.” That was my answer, but you couldn’t say that.
We stood clear of the conversation. We went back to, “So, when do you think Brett Favre is going to retire?” That type of thing. These were instances that I’ve had in my life, especially in broadcasting, that I’ve come into where people were trying to steer clear of a certain topic or subject, or try to steer you in a different direction.
Noe: It can be tricky to be mindful of who you are employed by, but still be honest at the same time. The Raiders are having a rough season. What are some of the positives that you look for and honestly articulate?
LK: I’m hoping to see improvement. I’m hoping to see consistency or better efficiency. When you are deficient and you know that you’re deficient in a certain area — for example the Raiders and pass protection. Well, then the following week when you come out, you want to see if they’ve made any adjustments. If they’ve done anything to get the led out to move in the right direction.
You want to see that type of progress rather than just hitting your head up against the wall and doing the same thing every single night. That’s what I’m looking for when I’m looking at this team, especially critiquing the team. I’m hoping that players play better or guys step up and play harder and just show effort. That’s what I’m trying to translate to the listeners.
Noe: Are there ever media members that didn’t play in the NFL that tend to get something consistently wrong while covering the NFL?
LK: I’m sure there are. I don’t know anything that stands out right off the top of my head.
Noe: I was just wondering as a former player if you ever look at a guy who covers the NFL and there is ever something they say where you’re like, “That’s not right at all.”
LK: You know what, I do know this — and I’ve experienced this — I feel for the beat writers or the writers that have to cover the sport, or have to go in the locker room because it is a different world. It’s a different world altogether and they have a job to do. They have a job that they want to translate whatever is going on with that team to the audience. So they have to ask you questions like, “How did it feel when you lost the game?” That type of stuff.
When I’ve interviewed players coming off the field, you try to get them relaxed. You try to get them to open up because there is a standard code of answers that players are going to give. Then you try to go a little offbeat if you will, “Hey man, I heard you like to play video games. What’s your favorite video game?” That type of thing — just to try to get them to relax a little bit, but that doesn’t always address what the listeners or the people who are reading the articles want to know. “I want to know what’s going on with my team. Why are they losing?”
You’ve got more players giving up more information than ever on their own – “I bumped up my ankle. Don’t start me on your fantasy team. I think I’m going to be out a couple of weeks,” on Twitter. These types of instances. These are the things that you are up against now so I kind of feel sorry for the beat writers, or journalists, or even us in radio. Our show doesn’t take call-ins. We don’t take a lot of guests. We generate the talk for four hours. I’ve been on shows that have and it’s hard to get something out of guys when they just don’t feel like talking about it.
Noe: What would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the booth and also the most rewarding part of doing sports talk radio?
LK: The most rewarding part about being in the booth is just being around the game. Being around the game, being able to watch the game. When I was on the sidelines I could sense the energy. I watched body language. I was right there in the thick of things. Same thing as now from a booth, it’s just a little different perspective.
For sports talk radio the reward is when people come up and say, “Hey man, that was a good show the other day. I listen to you on the way to work. I just love you guys.” Whatever it is, comments that are positive or negative because we have them all. It’s also the relationship that I’ve built with guys like Anthony Gargano who I’ve now known for, shoot, almost 10 years I think it is. The relationships and being on a medium that is worldwide. It’s not just in Arizona or California, it’s nationally. It really is a good, rewarding feeling.
Noe: What would you say is the toughest part of being in the booth covering the Raiders and also doing a sports radio show?
LK: It’s not tough for me to be in the booth at all. I know the game. I don’t want to sound arrogant in a sense, but it’s not hard at all. It’s really just like having a simple conversation because what I do is I call what I see. If it’s a good run, I’ll say it’s a good run. If a guy got ran over, I’ll say it needs to be blocked a little bit better. You know, that type of thing. That’s not difficult at all.
The challenge for sports talk radio is — be in the know about all of the sports you have to talk about. My strengths are basketball and football. Those are big sports in this country, but I strive with periodicals and articles and stuff that I read to be better at baseball. To be better at hockey. All the other sports — to be better at golf — to be able to hold a conversation so when something big happens, you can talk about it and you’re not just a football junkie.
Noe: You talk about painting a picture while being in the booth, so if you were to paint a picture about what Anthony Gargano is like as a sports radio host what would you say?
LK: What is he like as a sports radio host? Well, what’s interesting about our chemistry — our birthdays are a day apart and we’re so like-minded. Sometimes it’s like a couple — we can finish each other’s thoughts. The way we pattern our show is like a couple of guys just sitting at the sports bar just talking about sports. That’s why we call ourselves “The Fellas.”
We try to bring the rest of the crew in, so it’s just easy. It’s whatever subject you bring up, it’s just easy. “Hey, let’s talk about the Thursday night game. Did you see the Seahawks and the Packers? Yeah, man.” It’s just that simple. We’re doing four hours and the way we look at it, it’s just bullshit. We just bullshit with one another. (laughs)
We get some stats out there and we do some things that are important like we’ll pick games and stuff like that, but for the most part we’re not a hot topic per se show. We’re not an argumentative show. We’re not combative in the ways where we have to get our point across. It’s just really, really easy and really, really mellow if you know what I mean.
Noe: How would you paint a picture if someone was unaware of Brent Musburger and his extensive resume? What would you say about him?
LK: It’s absolutely surreal to work with him because he’s a legend. He’s been in sports and he’s got stories galore that you just sit back and waste days at a time if you can just talking about stuff. It’s really easy. Working with Brent has been really easy.
He’s helped me make the transition from the sideline to the booth because it is a different perspective. I miss the sidelines. I miss that energy and the booth is different. Because of my size, I’ve got to sit down so people behind me can see. I’m used to standing up when I’m doing a broadcast. I’m not used to sitting down. Things are different, but it’s absolutely surreal.
Noe: One of your first radio partners was Bruce Jacobs. How would you describe him?
LK: Oh, well that was (laughs), Bruce was a wild man. He really was. We had some good times together. All of my partners from Mike North, to Bruce Jacobs, to Dan Moriarty, all these guys were all different. I appreciate the fact that I think it helped me grow and not get penciled into one specific type of way.
Mike North was combative, so he wanted to argue with me about everything. Bruce was this, I don’t even know what his political affiliation is, but he’s hard-nosed like that. He wants to try to beat you down with a point. So you had to stand there with the punches. There were times where I was like, “Are you kidding me? Are you serious right now?” But it is what it is.
Noe: How would you describe yourself from the point of view of a listener? What do you think a listener would say if they were giving an accurate critique of your style?
LK: Well, especially when you talk about the partners that I’ve had, I’m sort of the sane one if you will. (laughs) I’m the one who’s a lot more mellow because I’m not yelling and screaming or getting off a point. I think many people have described me as sort of a view of logic if you will. Because I approach as much as I can logically. Given certain scenarios what would do — I was asked today about the Kevin Durant situation and Golden State with Draymond Green. How would I handle it? I use life experiences to sort of hone in and try to figure out the best possible way, but I try to think things through with the questions I’ve been asked.
Noe: What was the movie that you were in with John Cena?
LK: The Marine.
Noe: The Marine. Yeah, I saw it not too long ago and I was like, “It’s Linc!” Do you have any funny stories from that movie?
LK: What happened was, how I got into that movie, I used to play poker with a producer. He was like, “Look, I’ve got this perfect part for you in the movie.” When I saw it and I read the script, I was like, “This is some garbage.” I can’t believe anybody would make this. It was just corny, corny, corny. I went and did the shoot. It was fun and I got a chance to see John Cena and the actors. They were all there and it was just cool being on a movie set — not really saying much, just doing your part just trying to look mean.
Everyone who knows me said, “Dude, you’re trying to look hard. You’re tying to look mean. You don’t have that look about you.” I said there’s not a hard look about me. They put all this liquid sweat on me, or whatever the stuff was. They were trying to make me look hard like I’m working in the sweatshop and it didn’t work, but it was funny because of the response we’d get. Everybody loved the movie and I’m so surprised at that.
Noe: With all the cool things that you’ve been able to do after your playing career, is there anything else that you would like to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
LK: I guess it would probably be a dream come true for me to call a big game. Maybe like a playoff game or a bowl game or something like the Super Bowl or something like that. You know what I mean? That would be a great one because that would be a lifetime memory.
Noe: What would you say is your peak highlight — maybe not your best achievement — but your fondest memory of being a broadcaster?
LK: I guess what really tickles my fancy if you will is just the fact when people come up and say, “I heard you on the broadcast and I love your take,” or, “The way you do things.” Being appreciated, and you know this, for what we do and what we put out there because we do service the people, it’s always gratifying to be appreciated.
Noe: That’s a good way to look at it because you get to reach the top numerous times.
LK: Exactly. It’s like you just want to be appreciated. You just want to be respected for what you do. I get more people that come up to me — and it could be because of my size and they’re smarter than the average bear — or it could be they really appreciate the product. (laughs)
Adam The Bull Is Giving Cleveland Something It’s Never Had Before
“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?”
After spending 22 years on the radio, Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber was ready for a new adventure. In fact, the former co-host of Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland did not have a new job lined up when he signed off from his 11-year radio home last month.
“I was already leaving without having a new project,” admitted Gerstenhaber during a recent phone interview with BSM. “I left before I knew for sure I had a ‘next project’.”
Gerstenhaber was preparing for his final show with co-host Dustin Fox on April 1st when he was contacted by an executive producer for TEGNA, a company that was developing a Cleveland sports television show on YouTube. The executive producer, who had just found out that Bull was a free agent, made it clear that he wanted Bull to be a part of the new project.
It all came together very quickly.
“Let’s talk on Monday,” Gerstenhaber told the executive producer. “And within a week they signed me up.”
The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube featuring Gerstenhaber, former ESPN personality Jay Crawford, 92.3 The Fan’s Garrett Bush, and rotating hosts to make up a four-person round-table show, made its debut last Monday. The show, which airs weekdays from 11am to 1pm, features passionate Cleveland sports talk, live guests, either in-studio or via Zoom, as well as interaction from the audience through social media.
“I’m very excited,” said Gerstenhaber. “It’s a definite adjustment for me after 22 years on radio doing television. For the last 11 years, I’ve been doing a radio show with just one other host and I was the lead guy doing most of the talking and now I’m on a show with three other people and it’s such an adjustment. So far, I’m having a ball.”
And so far, the reaction to the show has been very positive.
A big reason why is that it’s something that Cleveland didn’t have and really never had, unlike a city like New York, where there are local radio shows that are simulcast on regional sports channels.
“There’s nothing like that in Cleveland,” said Gerstenhaber. “And there was certainly nothing like this with a panel. Cleveland is such a massive sports town and now people that don’t live in Cleveland that are maybe retired in Florida or Arizona, now they actually have a TV show that they can watch that’s Cleveland-centric.”
The new venture certainly represents a big change in what Bull has been used to in his radio career. He’s enjoying the freedom of not having to follow a hard clock for this show. In fact, there have already been some occasions where the show has been able to go a little longer than scheduled because they have the flexibility to do that on YouTube.
Doing a show on YouTube gives the panel a great opportunity to go deep into topics and spend some quality time with guests. And while there is no cursing on the show at the moment, there could be the potential for that down the road.
Don’t expect the show is going to become X-rated or anything like that, but the objective is to be able to capture the spirit and emotion of being a sports fan and host.
“It’s something we may do in the future,” said Gerstenhaber. “Not curse just to curse but it gives us the option if we get fired up. It is allowed because there’s no restrictions there. The company doesn’t want us to do it at the moment.”
There’s also been the shift for Gerstenhaber from being the “point guard” on his old radio show, driving the conversation and doing most of the talking, to now taking a step back and having Crawford distributing the ball on the television show.
For a guy called “The Bull”, that will take some getting used to.
“Jay is a pro’s pro,” said Gerstenhaber. “He’s the point guard for this but he’s also part of the conversation. I’m not used to not being the point guard so I have to adjust to that. I think it’s gone pretty well and the chemistry is pretty good and with time we’ll get used to the flow of it.”
Gerstenhaber’s move from sports radio to an internet television show is a perfect example of how the industry is changing. A good portion of the listening and viewing audience these days, especially those in the younger demographic, are not necessarily watching traditional television or listening to terrestrial radio. For a lot of sports fans, watching and listening on a mobile device or a computer has become a very important way of life.
The desire to adapt, along with a shorter workday, was very enticing to him.
“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?” wondered Gerstenhaber. “There were things about my job that I was unhappy about. I was doing a five-hour radio show. It’s too long. That’s crazy. Nobody should be doing a five-hour radio show at this point.”
Broadcasting on the internet has arrived and it’s not just a couple of sports fans doing a show from their garage anymore. The business has evolved to the point where the technology has provided more opportunities for those who have already enjoyed success in the industry and are looking for new challenges.
Kind of like Adam The Bull!
“I think years ago, probably like many people in the radio business, we looked at internet and podcasts as like whatever…those guys aren’t professionals…they’re amateurs,” said Gerstenhaber. “But the game has changed.”
Gerstenhaber, Crawford and everyone associated with the “Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show” should not have much of a problem attracting the younger audience. That demographic is already accustomed to watching shows on YouTube and other streaming platforms. The challenge now is to get the more mature audience on board. There are certainly some obstacles there.
I know this from experience with trying to explain to my mother in Florida how she can hear me on the radio and watch me on television simply by using her tablet.
Bull can certainly relate to that.
“My mother is still trying to figure out how to watch the show live,” said Gerstenhaber with a chuckle. “The older fans struggle with that. A lot of my older fans here in Cleveland are like how do I watch it? For people that are under 40 and certainly people that under 30, watching a YouTube show is like okay I watch everything on my phone or device. It’s such a divide and obviously as the years go by, that group will increase.”
With the television show off and running, Gerstenhaber still has a passion for his roots and that’s the radio side of the business. In the next couple of weeks, “The Bull” is set to announce the launch of two podcasts, one daily and one weekly, that will begin next month. But he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to terrestrial radio at some point.
“I have not closed the door to radio,” said Gerstenhaber. “I still love radio. I would still, in the right set of circumstances, consider going back to radio but it would have to really be the perfect situation. I’m excited about (the television show) and right now I don’t want to do anything else but I’m certainly going to remain open-minded to radio if a really excellent opportunity came up.”
The landscape of the broadcasting industry, particularly when it comes to sports, has certainly changed over the years and continues to evolve. Adam Gerstenhaber certainly enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the radio side, both in New York and in Cleveland, but now he has made the transition to something new with the YouTube television show and he’s committed to making it a success.
Why You Should Be Making Great TikTok Content
“We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds.”
It feels like there’s a new social media platform to pay attention to every other week. That makes it easy to overlook when one of them actually presents value to your brand. It wasn’t long ago that TikTok was primarily used by teenagers with the focus being silly dance trends filmed for video consumption with their friends and followers alike. Now, as the general public has become in tune with how this complicated app works, it’s grown far beyond that.
TikTok is now an app used by all types of demographics and unlike TikTok’s closely related cousins Instagram and Facebook, this app provides a certain type of nuance that I think people in our line of work can really excel in.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how you can use TikTok to your advantage and how to make your videos catch on, I think it’s important to first mention why this matters for you. Now, if I’m being realistic, I’m sure there are some that have already stopped reading this or those that could scroll away fast enough when they saw the words TikTok. You might be thinking that this doesn’t fit your demo, or maybe that it’s a waste of time because productivity here won’t directly lead to an uptick in Nielsen ratings. But I’m not sure any social network directly leads to what we ultimately get judged on, and we aren’t always pumping out content directly to our core audience.
TikTok, like any other app you may use, is marketing. This is another free tool to let people out there know who you are and what you offer in this endless sea of content. And the beauty of TikTok is that it directly caters its algorithm to content creators just like us. Bottom line, if you are a personality in sports talk, there’s no reason you can’t be crushing it on TikTok right now. All it takes is a little direction, focus, consistency, and a plan.
Unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can throw a photo up with a caption and be done for the day, TikTok’s whole model is built on creative videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of time. This approach works. According to Oberlo, a social media stat tracking site, people spend more time per day on TikTok than any other popular social media application. 38 minutes per day!
This is where this is good news for us in talk radio. We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds. TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have, your level of credibility, or the production on your video. All ir cares about is 1) Is your content good. and 2) Are people watching it. 3) How long are they watching it. The more people watch and the longer they watch creates a snowball effect. Your videos views will skyrocket, sometimes within hours.
So, how do you create content that will catch on? It’s really not all that different than what you do every day. Create thought-provoking commentary that makes people think, argue, or stay till the end to get the info you teased up for them. I’ve found through my own trial and error that it’s best if you stay away from time-sensitive material, I’ve had more success the more evergreen my content is. That way, the shelf life expands beyond just that day or week. This is different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all, but this is where I’ve seen the most success.
Also, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to say something that people are going to vehemently disagree with. Again, it’s not unlike what we do every day. It’s one thing to get someone to listen, it’s another to get them to engage. Once they hit you in the comment section, you’ve got them hooked. Comments breed more views and on and on. But don’t just let those sit there, even the smallest interaction back like a shoulder shrug emoji can go a long way in creating more play for your video.
If you want to grow quickly, create a niche for yourself. The best content creators that I follow on TikTok all put out very similar content for most of their videos. This means, unlike Instagram where it’s great to show what a wildly interesting and eclectic person you are, TikTok users want to know what they’re getting the second your face pops up on that screen. So if you are the sports history guy, be the sports history guy all the time. If you are the top 5 list guy, be the top 5 list guy all the time, and on and on, you get the point.
Other simple tricks:
- Splice small videos together. Don’t shoot one long video.
- 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a sweet spot amount of time.
- Add a soft layer of background instrumental music (this feature is found in the app when you are putting the finishing touches on your video)
- Label your video across the screen at the start and time it out so that it disappears seconds later. This way a user gets an idea of what the content is immediately and then can focus on you delivering your message thereafter.
- Research trending hashtags, they are far more important than whatever you caption your video.
- Use closed captions so that people can follow your video without sound.
Finally, don’t be intimidated by it or snub your nose at it. Anything that helps your brand is worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Does Tom Brady’s Salary Make Sense For FOX In a Changing Media World?
“The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general.”
FOX is playing it too safe when it comes to adding Tom Brady.
That’s going to sound weird given the size of Brady’s broadcasting contract. Even if that deal isn’t worth as much as initially reported, it’s a hell of a lot of loot, especially considering Brady has remained steadfastly uninteresting for a solid 20 years now.
Let’s not pretend that is a detriment in the eyes of a television network, however. There’s a long line of famous athletes companies like FOX have happily paid millions without ever requiring them to be much more than consistently inoffensive and occasionally insightful. Yes, Brady is getting more money than those previous guys, but he’s also the most successful quarterback in NFL history.
The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general. More specifically, the fact that the business of televising football games is changing, and while it may not be changing quite as rapidly as the rest of the sports-media industry, but it is changing. There’s an increasing number of choices available to viewers not only in the games that can be watched, but how they are consumed. Everything in the industry points to an increasingly fragmented audience and yet by signing Brady to be in the broadcast booth once he retires, FOX is paying a premium for a single component in a tried-and-true broadcasting formula will be more successful.
Think of Brady’s hiring as a bet FOX made. A 10-year commitment in which it is doubling down on the status quo at a time of obvious change. FOX saw ESPN introduce the ManningCast last year, and instead of seeing the potential for a network to build different types of products, FOX decided, “Nah, we don’t want to do anything different or new.” Don’t let the price tag fool you. FOX went out and bought a really famous former player to put in a traditional broadcast booth to hope that the center holds..
Maybe it will. Maybe Brady is that interesting or he’s that famous and his presence is powerful enough to defy the trends within the industry. I’m not naive enough to think that value depends on the quality of someone’s content. The memoir of a former U.S. president will fetch a multi-million-dollar advance not because of the literary quality, but because of the size of the potential audience. It’s the same rationale behind FOX’s addition of Brady.
But don’t mistake an expensive addition from an innovative one. The ManningCast was an actual innovation. A totally different way of televising a football game, and while not everyone liked it, some people absolutely loved it. It’s not going to replace the regular Monday Night Football format, but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s an alternative or more likely a complement and ESPN was sufficiently encouraged to extend the ManningCast through 2024. It’s a different product. Another option it is offering its customers. You can choose to watch to the traditional broadcast format with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth or you can watch the Mannings or you can toggle between both. What’s FOX’s option for those audience members who prefer something like the ManningCast to the traditional broadcast?
It’s not just ESPN, either. Amazon offered viewers a choice of broadcasters, too, from a female announcing tandem of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer beginning in 2018 to the Scouts Feed with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks in 2020.
So now, not only do viewers have an increasingly wide array of choices on which NFL games they can watch — thanks to Sunday Ticket — they in some instances have a choice of the announcing crew for that given game. Amid this economic environment, FOX not only decided that it was best to invest in a single product, but it decided to make that investment in a guy who had never done this particular job before nor shown much in the way of an aptitude for it.
Again, maybe Brady is the guy to pull it off. He’s certainly famous enough. His seven Super Bowl victories are unmatched and span two franchises, and while he’s denied most attempts to be anything approaching interesting in public over the past 20 years, perhaps that is changing. His increasingly amusing Twitter posts over the past 2 years could be a hint of the humor he’s going to bring to the broadcast booth. That Tampa Tom is his true personality, which remained under a gag order from the Sith Lord Bill Belichick, and now Brady will suddenly become football’s equivalent of Charles Barkley.
But that’s a hell of a needle to thread for anyone, even someone as famous as Brady, and it’s a really high bar for someone with no broadcasting experience. The upside for FOX is that its traditional approach holds. The downside, however, is that it is not only spending more money on a product with a declining market, but it is ignoring obvious trends within the industry as it does so.