ESPN has made it official: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are the new broadcast team on Monday Night Football.
The network issued a release on Wednesday announcing that both broadcasters have been signed to multi-year agreements. The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand previously reported that Aikman’s deal is for five years and $90 million, while Buck’s contract is also for five years ranging between $60 million and $75 million.
Buck and Aikman both moving to ESPN together means that their long broadcast relationship will continue, having been together for 20 years on Fox. With their 21st season together, ESPN points out that they will match Pat Summerall and John Madden, arguably the greatest broadcasting team ever, for the longest run by an NFL announcing duo.
Lisa Salters remains as MNF‘s sideline reporter, going into her 11th season on the broadcast. And John Parry will return as the production’s officiating analyst.
“The opportunity to be a voice on Monday Night Football, adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective,” said Aikman in a statement. “As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week. Joe and I are humbled to be part of that same tradition that has existed for more than 50 years across generations of football fans.”
ESPN’s release mentions that both Buck and Aikman will contribute content to ESPN+. Besides the obvious appeal of multi-million dollar contracts, the possibility of doing more for the network besides calling Monday Night Football appeared to be a draw.
No details on what the two will do were revealed, but with Buck previously attempting an HBO talk show, maybe he’d be interested in a feature interview series. Aikman could perhaps show further insight as an analyst in ESPN+’s Detail series, though Peyton Manning has the football angle covered there. Maybe the two have interest in producing some documentary content.
It should be noted that ESPN mentioned nothing about Buck calling baseball, which was natural to speculate since he was the voice of Major League Baseball on Fox for 24 years. But with the network getting extra Wild Card playoff games in MLB’s expanded postseason, maybe Buck will make an appearance there.
“Everything about Monday Night Football, including the broadcast, set the standard for the modern NFL experience,” Buck said in the announcement. “My earliest memories of walking around football stadiums are tagging along with my dad as he called Monday Night Football on radio. To return to the stadium on Monday nights with Troy – who I have the utmost comfort with and confidence in – and begin a new chapter, for us and ESPN, has me excited about this season and our future.”
The announcement also reiterates that ESPN will broadcast 25 games each season as part of its new 10-year rights deal with the NFL. That schedule will be comprised of 23 regular-season games, a Wild Card playoff game, and a Divisional Playoff match-up. Buck and Aikman obviously can’t call all of those broadcasts, so we’ll see additional announcing teams during the season.
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will likely be one of them when available. Will this mean that ESPN’s former MNF team of Steve Levy and Louis Riddick will also be on the call? (Brian Griese has left broadcasting with the expiration of his ESPN contract, becoming the quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers.)
Buck and Aikman’s first Monday Night Football broadcast is scheduled for Sept. 12, with Phil Dean producing and Jimmy Platt directing.
NFL Likely To Launch NFL+ Streaming Service This Summer
“A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+.”
According to the Sports Business Journal, consumers could be downloading NFL+ by July. Now, just what NFL+ will be is still yet to be finalized.
Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal reported in the site’s newsletter that live games will certainly be at the center of the league-owned streaming service. It is likely to only be available on phones and tablets with no option to stream to a larger monitor.
The viewing options would be limited. No out of market games would be available on the app. It is meant to replace the deals that recently expired with Yahoo and mobile phone carriers that recently expired.
The app could also include other content. Radio calls, team-created digital content, and league-owned podcasts are all options.
A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+. The pricing structure can and likely will change before the app hits the market.
Stephen A. Smith To Charles Barkley: ‘I Worry Because You’re Big’
“You’ve always been big. But now you’re bigger.”
ESPN host Stephen A. Smith is concerned about his friend Charles Barkley.
Barkley, while in Dallas with TNT for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Mavericks and Golden State Warriors, Barkley hopped on a horse. The clip Stephen A. used in his ESPN+ show Stephen A’s World showed Barkley needing assistance by handlers to get off the horse.
Stephen A. was astounded.
“Ain’t no way Charles Barkley needs that much help getting off the horse,” Smith said. “But he did – he did!”
Smith then used the closing seconds to express his concern about Barkley’s size.
“I worry about you cause you’re a big boy,” he said. “You’ve always been big. But now you’re bigger.”
Barkley hasn’t had any publicized major health incidents stemming from his weight, but still Stephen A. was hopeful his friend might take some time and initiative to work on cutting a few pounds.
“Let’s address that, because I need you around,” Smith said. “I love you bro.”
NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings
“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”
The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer.
In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD.
“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”
There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week.
No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.