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.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.”
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.