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Does Playing The Game Prepare You For Sports Radio?

“I think it’s a lot easier being a pro athlete receiving constructive criticism than maybe somebody who’s never gone through that before.”

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Put yourself in the shoes of a professional athlete. You have just retired from playing the game that you love, a craft you have been perfecting from the moment you stepped onto the field, and are wondering what comes next. These thoughts are quite common among retiring athletes. For many of them, stepping away from the sport as a player does not mean they step away from it completely.

After 15 years in the NBA, JJ Redick retired from playing but still remains involved in the landscape of the game as an analyst for ESPN. Similarly, former National Football League defensive end Chris Canty, following 11 years in the NFL, joined 98.7 FM ESPN Radio New York as an on-air host, and has seen his role evolve into working as a national host for ESPN Radio.

Many former athletes have or are in the process of establishing themselves as integral parts of the world of sports media, whether it be as an on-air host, analyst, contributor, executive, etc. Former athletes bring a perspective other commentators lack; that is, the ability to place themselves in the mindset of those on the field or court or ice, and discuss things from that angle.

Lou Merloni played Major League Baseball for nine seasons, the first five of which with his hometown Boston Red Sox. Merloni finished his career with a .271 batting average, and a .716 OPS as a second baseman in stints with the Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels. After retiring in 2007, Merloni worked to find his niche in sports media, starting at WEEI as a co-host on The Big Show. Additionally, Merloni began his foray on the television side as an analyst on NESN’s Boston Red Sox pregame and postgame shows during the 2008 season. Today, Merloni continues to work at WEEI with Fauria as a co-host of Merloni and Fauria on weekdays from 2-6 p.m.

Tom Waddle played six seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears. In 60 games, Waddle had 183 receptions and 2,109 yards, and retired from the game prior to the start of the 1995 season. Waddle has had roles on radio and television since his retirement Waddle currently serves as a football analyst for WLS-TV, and a co-host of Waddle and Silvy with longtime radio personality Marc Silverman on ESPN 1000 Chicago on weekdays from 2-6 p.m.

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Derek Futterman: How would you describe your relationship with the media during your playing days?

Lou Merloni (Host, WEEI): I think I had a pretty friendly relationship with all of those guys. I was a utility guy in Boston, but I think I made friends with a lot of the media members.

Tom Waddle (Host, ESPN 1000 Chicago): It was very friendly. I played from ‘89 to ‘95 and thought the relationship between all the players and the media – for the most part – was pretty good. I would definitely say that I had a good relationship with a lot of the guys covering the team. I actually was also doing some media work towards the tail end of my career, so I kind of looked at some of those guys as a good resource to guide me to do what I was going to do.

Futterman: What similarities exist, if any, between playing and talking about the game?

Lou Merloni: [As an athlete,] the test… is the game itself. And the test for us is the actual show itself. You really can’t accomplish either one if you don’t put the work in beforehand. If you’re playing — if you’re not doing the right things — taking your ground balls; taking batting practice; going over scouting reports, you’re not going to be prepared for the game. I feel like it’s the same thing with radio and the show. All the real work is done the night before in watching a game and writing down notes and waking up the next day and reading and thinking about what you want to do and putting a show together. And the test is the actual show, and at that point you have everything in front of you and you just perform.

Tom Waddle: [It is] very competitive. There are very few jobs and an immense number of people that want those jobs. There is a certain level of competition. It’s a challenge for sure; you’re in an arena that you might not be as comfortable in. You have to perform; when the light goes on in television, or when the music stops and it’s your turn to talk on the radio, you’ve got to have something to say.

Futterman: What do you say to those who might say you are unable to understand a fan’s point of view due to not experiencing the highs and lows in the same way they have?

Merloni: For me, it’s being in Boston where I grew up. I was a fan of the teams — following them as a fan, thinking as a fan, before I was a member of the Red Sox. When we were in the ALCS, you’re thinking as a professional athlete in the moment, but there are times you sit back, and say ‘Man, we win this game, we go to the World Series.’ And thinking as a fan: ‘[If we win,] we are going to the World Series.’ Sometimes the job takes you in different areas where you have to be more critical than you would be if you were just a fan, but I was a fan first before I was a professional athlete.

Waddle: I think I got a head start on that because I was a blue collar player who was probably less athletic than most of the fans who were listening to us. I think I had a great relationship to begin with because there was an identity that existed from my playing days. I came into the industry, and my thought was: ‘I’m going to be honest. I’m going to give you the perspective I have. I’m going to be professional and tell you how I feel.’ I respect the players; the audience; and the fans, and in some ways, you have to walk a fine line by giving them what they deserve and respect, but not becoming personal. I came into the industry with the benefit of kind-of knowing how it stings when people are critical in a personal manner, and kind of felt that would be something that was going to be a focal point of my next career.

Futterman: How has being part of a team as an athlete differed from being part of a team as a broadcaster?

Merloni: It’s interesting. As much as baseball is a team sport, it’s probably the most individual sport of them all because my teammates, even though there’s things we can see and help with one another, whether it be scouting reports, when I’m in the box it’s up to me. When a guy hits me a ground ball, it’s up to me. There are ways where teammates definitely help you, but for the most part, it’s up to you to get the job done. I actually think in the media when you are doing a show with somebody, you rely on them more than you rely on a teammate to help you do your job in baseball. When it comes to baseball, I rely on my teammate for that show to click more.

Waddle: There’s some similarities, obviously. I don’t know that it is significantly different. Maybe smaller teams — on the air, it’s myself and Marc Silverman, and we have two producers. I live by the same concepts that everyone’s contributing and that no one is more important than anyone else. I was one of 11 in an offensive huddle; now I’m one of four doing a show from 2-6. I think there are more similarities than differences to be honest with you.

Futterman: Having been coached as a player, what similarities and differences have you noticed in handling feedback from media bosses?

Merloni: I think it’s a lot easier being a pro athlete receiving constructive criticism than maybe somebody who’s never gone through that before. As an athlete, if I’m not hitting well, I’m searching for answers and relying on resources and coaches to try to get me to where I want to be. And I don’t care what kind of criticism I hear from them; as long as it gets it to where I want to be — that’s all that matters. When you’re in the radio business, that doesn’t bother me — I just want to know what I need to do to be better. I think hearing that as a pro athlete; you are able to take those criticisms in this profession a little bit better than maybe some.

Waddle: You’ve got to be receptive to it. Just because I played in the NFL doesn’t mean I deserve any special type of treatment or recognition as a broadcaster. I want to be treated the same way by my bosses as I was by Mike Ditka – minus some yelling – as a player. I don’t have any problem with somebody coming in and saying, ‘Hey, guess what? I think you should have gone this direction with the interview.’ I am not above being coached, that’s for damn sure.

Futterman: How do you manage criticizing former teammates or friends on the air?

Merloni: That was the hardest part — the first few years of doing radio. When some of my former teammates and friends were still on the team. It made it a lot easier when some of those guys left, and I was able to look at it critically. I’ve always kind-of felt like the athlete will always be able to look himself in the mirror. Initially, they might not like what they hear, but at the same point, if it’s wrong that’s one thing. But if you are talking about ex-teammates or friends, you know them well, and you kind of know the reasons why things are going south. It’s not that they want to hear those things, but deep down, they might know that that’s the reason. That was probably the toughest thing to do for those first few years.

Waddle: It’s part of your job. I think you can be critical without being an asshole. As long as you don’t cross the line, or start making comments that are personally offensive, I don’t think that you’re crossing the line. I think the job is to give the opinions and analysis they brought you in to give; you have to have strong thoughts. I don’t have any inclination to want to take cheap shots at anybody; I don’t think it’s necessary, and I don’t think you’re doing anyone any favors.

Futterman: Who was the first player, coach or executive who you ticked off with something you said?

Merloni: Probably the first one was Terry Francona. I remember it was NESN right after a game, and there was a situation. I think I said after a game that I felt like [a player] should have bunted [in a situation]. That was the first time I had a conversation with a manager [as a member of the] media. It was one of those — you don’t have all the information; you don’t this, you don’t that. And I was like, ’No, I don’t. Unless you want to call and discuss it. All I can base it off of is what I see and what I know.’ We know in the media that we don’t know. There’s a lot of things that happen in the dugout and clubhouse that we don’t know about, but when we’re asked to react about it immediately, we can only base it off of our experiences and opinions. I always respected the fact that Terry wanted to talk to me about it, and we sort of moved on.

Waddle: There’s no question about that. I was working with David Kaplan on WGN Radio, and we were in a broadcast trailer outside of Wrigley Field. I think it was a weekend game, and we were doing postgame coverage of the Cubs, and our show branched out into all sports arenas. We had Jerry Krause on, and we were previewing a draft prospect or something of that nature and I asked a question about a particular player in college, and the college season was over at the time, so it wasn’t an inappropriate question. Jerry bit my head off, and became very unprofessional with me. I remember taking my headset off, and looking at David Kaplan, and going ‘Well, you can take this the rest of the way — I’m done.’ That just didn’t sit well with me, and maybe I was being a dumbass or a hothead about it, but even someone as accomplished as Jerry Krause, I just thought it was an unnecessary approach he took to my question. I think that was the first time I was exposed to somebody giving me hell about something, and I didn’t handle it with the maturity I would handle it with 25 years later.

Futterman: If there is one piece of advice you can share with athletes who might be considering moving into this business, what would it be?

Lou Merloni: Don’t hold back. Be fair, but give a strong opinion, and remember that this is your job. Your job is to be truthful and analyze what you see. I think some guys that come in the media that aren’t all in the media kind of soft pedal a little bit. Their friendships are more important than their next career, and I’m not saying you should just destroy your friendships, but your friends should realize that you’ve moved on and this is now your job if they are really your friends.

Tom Waddle: Be prepared. No different than when you were playing against the Lions, or you lined up against the Packers. If you weren’t prepared, you’d be exposed quickly, and your job security would be challenged and you wouldn’t last long. The same goes for the broadcast industry. There are guys who go out and work just as hard covering teams or the different things who are talking about as former players because of the work ethic that got them to where they got to. I would always tell anyone — be willing to do the hard work; don’t think you are going to get by just because of your accomplishments on the field. You are in a different arena, and will be exposed quickly. I think the same lessons you learned on the playing field will serve you well and the television and radio booth. What you did as an NFL player — there’s a shelf-life to that if you don’t hone your craft and work at it.”

Futterman: What remaining goals do you hope to accomplish in the media industry?

Merloni: I think it’s funny because when you’re done with baseball — whether you are a Hall of Famer or not — I think a lot of athletes would tell you that an important thing is how a lot of your former teammates talk about you. You can be a Hall of Famer [with] nobody [liking] you. It’s how they talk about you afterwards. When the career is over, or whatever my goal is, people can look back and say ‘He said what’s on his mind. It wasn’t just cheering for the home team all the time.’ I hope people look back and say I gave an honest opinion. My goal isn’t any more than that — to do my job and to do it the best I can.

Waddle: I’ve been so blessed at this point. I never would have thought that I would work at the NFL Network or ESPN in Bristol; that I would do national work, or have my own radio show with anybody. I feel so blessed that I’ve been given so many of the opportunities I’ve been given. I don’t have these lofty goals — I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish and experience a lot. I just want to continue to be better every day, and continue to work hard at it and hopefully entertain people. Maybe that sounds like I don’t have a lot of goals — I do — I’ll be 55 in February. I want to do this for the foreseeable future, and get better at it every day.

BSM Writers

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?”

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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.

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BSM Writers

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.”

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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. 

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BSM Writers

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.”

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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.

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