Jim Nantz is synonymous with CBS Sports, and as much as it’s hard to picture the iconic announcer with another network, that won’t stop him from fielding offers. And if Nantz is available, it’s logical to see ESPN topping the list of potential suitors.
In recent NFL off-seasons, ESPN has been linked to big names such as Al Michaels, Tony Romo and Peyton Manning for their Monday Night Football booth. Eventually landing on a trio featuring Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese, the MNF crew received praise for the first time in years. But a major broadcaster like Nantz doesn’t often make it to free agency.
According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, if Nantz does hit free agency this summer, ESPN will be interested in his services to lead their NFL and Masters golf coverage.
A few months ago, it was reported Nantz is seeking a pay increase similar to the one CBS gave his broadcast partner Tony Romo earlier last year. According to The New York Post, the play-by-play voice wants to top Romo’s $17.5 annual salary, a number that far exceeds other network sportscasters. Having been a prominent announcer for CBS since the 1980s, Nantz currently makes about $6.5 million per year, just over a third of what Romo earns.
This Sunday, Nantz will call his sixth Super Bowl for CBS Sports as he continues to be their lead voice for NFL football, college basketball and the PGA. Over the next three months, Nantz is scheduled to broadcast an impressive list of sporting events which includes the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and The Masters.
In the past year, ESPN cut a significant amount of salary, conducting the company’s largest round of layoffs in the wake of COVID-19, while letting contracts expire for some of their prominent talent. But the financial moves help set ESPN up to make more investments in live sports.
The addition of the 61-year-old Nantz could be an attractive asset as ESPN/ABC negotiates future rights deals. The network has reportedly sought to increase their NFL TV packages and enter the network Super Bowl rotation.
Nantz also recently expressed a desire to work into his 80s, with plans of anchoring Masters coverage beyond 2035. Golf’s most prestigious tournament is synonymous with CBS, but The Masters has signed one-year contracts with the network since 1956. Nantz is similarly synonymous with The Masters and if he signed a deal with Disney, it could open the door for ABC to acquire the tournament’s Saturday and Sunday coverage.
If Nantz does become a free agent, he’ll certainly have interested suitors with ESPN waiting at the front of the line. But after more than three decades with CBS, convincing other networks that he’s willing to go elsewhere might be the most difficult task in negotiating his next deal.
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.