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Joe Buck Reportedly Leaving Fox for ESPN and ‘Monday Night Football’

Buck’s deal will reportedly be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million.

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Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will remain together in the broadcast booth. And ESPN has their play-by-play man for Monday Night Football.

The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Fox allowed Buck to enter contract talks with ESPN, and Buck is expected to sign a deal to call MNF. Fox could have prevented Buck from talking to ESPN, but apparently the network decided to let him pursue a larger deal as a “thank you for your service” gesture. He’s been with Fox since 1994.

Buck had one year remaining on his deal with Fox for a reported $11 million, so it’s reasonable to presume that he’ll get a raise at ESPN in addition to a multi-year agreement. According to Marchand, Buck’s deal will be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million. So at least a $1 million annual raise, but possibly up to $4 million.

Aikman has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $92.5 million contract to be the analyst in the MNF booth. The $18.5 million annual salary surpasses what Tony Romo earns with CBS in the 10-year contract that he signed two years ago. That deal will likely be officially announced once Buck is inked to a deal and ESPN can introduce its new Monday Night Football team together.

After he left Fox for ESPN, Aikman made it clear that he would like to continue working with Buck, with whom he worked for 20 years on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. That seemed unlikely with Buck still under contract, but ESPN obviously had a lucrative offer and Aikman has indicated that Fox is only willing to pay so much to keep its talent.

The question now becomes who replaces Buck and Aikman at Fox. And where will Al Michaels go? With Fox, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are expected to move up to the No. 1 booth, but the network might want to do something splashier now. Could that involve Michaels? Or is he now all but assured to go to Amazon, which has been rumored for months? (The possibility of Michaels calling the NFL and returning to baseball at Fox is extremely intriguing.)

Will Buck only call Monday Night Football for ESPN? He was Fox’s top play-by-play broadcaster for Major League Baseball, calling showcase events like the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series (which he’s broadcasted for 24 seasons). It’s unlikely he would call Sunday Night Baseball, especially during NFL season. But the network also just named Karl Ravech as SNB‘s play-by-play announcer with analysts David Cone and Eduardo Perez.

With Buck previously expressing interest in branching out with a talk show at HBO, could there be a possibility of him doing something like a recurring interview or feature series? (The HBO show was canceled after only three episodes, and Buck has said it was a bad experience.)

Maybe Buck is content to just call Monday Night Football (especially if that’s all his ESPN deal calls for) while indulging his creative, playful side with his podcast, Daddy Issues, co-hosted with actor Oliver Hudson.

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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