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Fred Gaudelli Explains How NBC Landed Tom Brady vs Pats

The network had been targeting the matchup for months.

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Courtesy: Digital Trends

The NFL puts together marquee matchups every year that their broadcast partners crave, but one stood above the rest this time for NBC. The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch spoke with NBC’s Fred Gaudelli about how the network bagged the white whale on the 2021 NFL schedule: Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ first trip back to play the Patriots.

The league’s broadcast partners lobby for the matchups they most want to broadcast every year. Gaudelli, executive producer of “Sunday Night Football,” had his eyes on the reunion game for months.

“I told [NBCUniversal Chairman] Mark [Lazarus] and [NBC Sports Chairman] Pete [Bevacqua] that we really needed to make this our No. 1 game because it’s going to be the biggest story that week and transcend sports,” Gaudelli told Deitsch. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime game. I mean, (Brady) can only play them the first time one time.”

Gaudelli knew NBC had to put an extra touch on the pitch to separate themselves from the pack. They seized that opportunity with a PowerPoint presentation given to the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations Howard Katz.

“The slides showed what we could do to amplify it and give it even greater exposure,” Gaudelli said to Deitsch. “It wasn’t that formal a presentation. We had a two-pronged approach. I took Howard through it and Pete took Hans Schroeder through it. And then they presented it to Roger [Goodell].”

Katz must’ve been pleased with the presentation because there will be NBC production trucks in Foxboro when Brady steps back into Gillette Stadium.

“Let me put it this way: In the history of ‘Sunday Night Football,’ I think the only other game that would have had the national interest that this game is going to have is the first Sunday night game we ever did, which was the Manning Bowl,” Gaudelli recalled to Deitsch on the September 2006 game. “It was the first time Eli and Peyton were ever going to play against each other at any level of football. Before we even started the call I said to Howard, ‘Do we have the game?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’”

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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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.”

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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