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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.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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