Mike Aresco spoke with Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinal earlier this week and defended what he thought were misconceptions about the American Athletic Conference’s new deal with ESPN. The commissioner addressed criticisms that the new deal makes it easy for marquee brands like UCF and Houston to leave the conference and that too many football and basketball games are going to be put behind the ESPN+ paywall.
“We basically have our own branded network on ESPN+ for certain kinds of events,” Aresco told Murschel. “Where the misconception is, we are getting more games on the ESPN primary linear channels than we had in the previous deal.”
The ESPN family of networks aired 26 American Athletic Conference football games in 2018. Under the terms of the new deal, it will carry 40 regular season games plus the conference championship game. There is also a promise that 21 of those games will air on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC.
Basketball was also discussed in the interview. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry at least 25 regular season men’s games as well as the conference tournament championship game. Adding ESPNU and ESPNews to the deal will see 65 AAC men’s games on cable overall.
Women’s basketball will be well-represented too according to Aresco. ESPN and ESPN2 have committed to carrying 13 women’s regular season games. Many will likely include UConn, one of the strongest college basketball brands in the country regardless of gender.
“UConn [women’s basketball] will have more games on the ESPN platforms, including ESPNU, than some of the premier men’s programs in the country,” Aresco said.
Aresco pushed back at the idea that the majority of AAC sporting events were going to be exclusively on ESPN+. He also said that for fans of Olympic sports, ESPN+ might actually offer a price drop to follow your school’s team in your favorite sport.
“Did you know to watch some Olympic sports on some schools’ websites, it costs more than $4.99 a month just to watch the Olympic sports, let alone watch football and basketball?”
Kentucky Derby Rebounds With 16 Million Viewers
“The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.”
The Kentucky Derby has now eclipsed 15 million viewers in each of the last eight years that the event was not effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. An average audience of 16 million tuned in Saturday to see longshot Rich Strike win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.
During the weekend, the event kept finding new life on social media. According to an NBC Sports press release, the overhead shot of the final call drew big audiences across a number of the network’s digital platforms, having been viewed in total more than 36 million times.
Peacock also cashed in on the event’s success. The streaming platform posted an average minute audience of over 247,000 viewers during the Kentucky Derby.
ESPN Releases Details For Joe Buck’s PGA Championship Broadcast
“Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host.”
Omaha Productions and ESPN are getting ready for the PGA Championship. News broke last week that Joe Buck would make his ESPN debut at the center of alternative coverage of the event. Now the network is sharing a few details of the broadcast.
Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host. ESPN’s senior golf analyst will bring the perspective of a former caddie to the broadcast as well as the humor of a former comedian.
The duo will welcome plenty of guests too. The lineup suggests that while the broadcast will be built around golf, the conversations could go anywhere. Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, and Peyton & Eli Manning are all scheduled to make appearances.
“We loved doing Monday Night Football with ESPN and the entire Omaha team has been looking forward to producing alternate telecasts that celebrate other sports,” Peyton Manning said in a press release. “As one of golf’s majors, the PGA Championship is a perfect place to do our first one for golf and we look forward to working with Joe, Michael and everyone in ESPN’s golf team.”
Joe Buck and Michael Collins will be on TV for all four days of the PGA Championship. They will be on for four hours each day. The broadcast will alternate between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ depending on where the traditional coverage of the event is airing.
The PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins is the latest offering from ESPN’s deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. The company has also committed to produce alternate coverage of MMA and college football broadcasts in the future.
Tom Brady To Join FOX At End Of Career
“Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.”
Tom Brady won’t be in the booth this season for FOX, but he will be there eventually. The network’s PR account tweeted that as soon as Brady is ready to call it a career, he will join Kevin Burkhardt to call the biggest game on the network’s slate each week.
“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement.
FOX has made no secret of its desire to bring Brady aboard. The network has been courting him ever since he announced his retirement in February. The desire to pair him with Burkhardt was first reported in March by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.
This news raises questions about the future for a lot of the parties involved. First, who will be Burkhardt’s partner this season? Tom Brady has committed to play for the Buccaneers. Next, what does this mean for the quarterback’s future? Does this guarantee that 2022 will be his final season in the NFL? Finally, what now for Greg Olsen? He had been Burkhardt’s partner last season and has expressed interest in continuing to work together.
All of those answers will be addressed in time. Right now, FOX is busy celebrating.
Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.
That is going to cost them too. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post has a full salary breakdown for Brady. He will get $375 million over the course of ten years. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, FOX’s former top NFL play-by-play team, will make a combined $33 million per year at ESPN. Brady’s annual salary will top that number on its own.
FOX’s deal with Tom Brady is similar to the one NBC made with Drew Brees before his final season in New Orleans. It allowed the quarterback one more season and promised him a nice landing spot in the media when his playing days are done. We will have to wait and see whether or not FOX will end up waiting longer than the one season NBC did.