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Kirk Herbstreit Reportedly On Amazon’s Radar For ‘Thursday Night Football’

Herbstreit’s current contract may allow him to broadcast NFL games with another outlet while continuing to call college football with ESPN.

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Days after ESPN hired Troy Aikman before Amazon could finalize a deal with the analyst, Amazon may try to poach one of ESPN’s top football voices.

The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Amazon is targeting Kirk Herbstreit for its NFL Thursday Night Football analyst position. Of course, Herbstreit is ESPN/ABC’s No. 1 college football game analyst and a key part of ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday pregame show. He’s arguably the network’s top voice on the sport across its programming.

But according to Marchand, his current contract may allow him to broadcast NFL games with another outlet while continuing to call college football with ESPN. As could be expected, however, lawyers would likely have something to say about that, possibly interpreting that contract in different ways. Disney’s lawyers might say his ESPN contract wouldn’t allow him to work for Amazon.

Additionally, ESPN would still be interested in Herbstreit calling NFL games for the network even if he took the TNF Amazon job. With its new rights deal, ESPN (with ABC and ESPN+) will have up to 25 games per season, including 23 regular-season games, Divisional Round playoff games in addition to Wild Card playoffs, and Super Bowls in the 2026 and 2030 seasons. The network will need more than the regular Monday Night Football crew to call those broadcasts.

Marchand’s report clarifies that serious talks between Amazon and Herbstreit haven’t begun. Yet that’s expected to change soon.

Obviously, calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC would be a considerable workload. But Herbstreit has expressed interest in broadcasting both college football and NFL games in the past.

Herbstreit has dabbled in NFL broadcasting during the past few years. He was part of NFL Draft coverage for ESPN in 2018 and last year for ABC. In 2020, he called the first game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader with regular play-by-play partner Chris Fowler. Last season, the two returned to call the first game of ESPN/ABC’s NFL Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.

Speaking of Fowler, Marchand mentions that ESPN is considering Fowler as the play-by-play partner for Aikman on Monday Night Football, along with Joe Buck, Al Michaels, and Ian Eagle. Could both Herbstreit and Fowler call NFL games — and for different entities — then reunite each Saturday for their usual college football showcase?

Just about anything seems possible — though improbable — in this frenzied NFL broadcasting carousel.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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