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Troy Aikman: Lack of Communication with FOX Led to Me Leaving for ESPN

“I never had a conversation with Eric Shanks until he called to congratulate me on the ESPN contract,” Aikman said.

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Troy Aikman

One of the first major dominos to fall in this offseason broadcaster roulette was Troy Aikman leaving FOX to join ESPN, a move that prompted Joe Buck to seek his exit from FOX to join his partner. Aikman sought other employment because of a lack of communication with FOX.

“The reason that I’m no longer at Fox is mostly due to a lack of communication,” Aikman said on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. “Which is ironic since we’re in the communications business. But, that’s the way that it is.”

For context, Aikman agreed to a contract last year that included an opt-out for the broadcaster after last season. Aikman said he wanted the option because the two sides couldn’t agree on “fair market value” for his services going forward so he wanted that protection and got it. Since the end of the season, the phone lines have been quiet between he and FOX Sports’ CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks.

“I never had a conversation with Eric Shanks until he called to congratulate me on the ESPN contract,” Aikman said. “I asked him specifically for some comments that I had heard that circulated and got back to me and he refused to answer those questions. Joe had asked him the same questions as to ‘How did we get here?’ And he refused to answer those questions as well.”

Aikman went on to say that he didn’t know why things had gotten so quiet between the two and realizes he may never know.

“There may not ever be any clarity from my perspective as to what exactly happened. I was an employee of theirs for 21 years. I feel like I did everything that was asked of me. And I don’t feel like I ever gave them anything to complain about or be upset about. But, you know, so be it.”

“I used the word disappointing,” Aikman added. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me. I just think that it’s not hard just to have a conversation and if you have a position, that’s fine. Nobody has to feel at fault for feeling a certain way or taking a stand. Just communicate that. And I think that’s the biggest disappointment that I took from it. But with all that being said, I couldn’t be more excited to be at ESPN and see how someone else does it. And what I’ve seen is, they do it a lot differently, and it’s been refreshing.”

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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NFL Studio

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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Sports TV News

ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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Wild Card
David Berding/Getty Images

There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Sports TV News

Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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