Fox Sports announced their new play-by-play lineup for the upcoming NFL season, and one pairing stood out above the rest. The network is putting Gus Johnson and Aqib Talib for a select number of games this fall. UFC and NFL reporter Megan Olivi rounds out the crew as a sideline reporter.
Gus Johnson has been the network’s lead voice for college football since 2011 and basketball since 2013, with the former hampering his ability to dive into NFL action. Until now, a Fox spokesperson confirmed to SI’s Jimmy Traina that the duo is calling 6-7 NFL games together this year. Back in April, Talib discussed his first foray into broadcasting with Traina on the SI Media Podcast:
“When I got the call from Fox when my agent called me, he said they wanted to sign me to a three-game deal. It was a max of three games and a chance of no games because you’re not on the A team or B team, so you’re just filling in for guys with all this COVID stuff going on. Kinda like an audition, really. I probably got like $10K for the game. I ain’t really get no cash for the game. It was just an opportunity. Opportunity to go out there and see if you could do it or not.”
Gus Johnson has been on the call for some magical moments over the years on Fox’s Big Noon Saturday games, but this is his first time calling NFL games since he left CBS ten years ago.
Some other notes from the lineup feature Mark Sanchez as part of an NFL broadcast booth for the first time in his career. Greg Olsen is also diving headfirst into his analyst role as Kevin Burkhardt’s right-hand man in the network’s number two booth.
Fans also learned Tom Rinaldi’s role in the upcoming NFL season. The famed storyteller joins Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews only when Fox has America’s Game of the Week.
2021 Most-Watched College Football Season Ever For FOX
“And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too..”
FOX Sports has been a college football broadcast rights holder for going on 15 years now. In recent years, it seems like the network has really hit its stride in terms of programming, getting fans and viewers ready for its slate of games dubbed “Big Noon Saturday.”
In 2019, the network began an effort to essentially compete with ESPN staple College GameDay by debuting its own pre-game show named Big Noon Kickoff.
FOX Sports on Wednesday reported that the efforts to make its college football pre-game show appointment programming have been paying off.
Big Noon Kickoff averaged 1.383 million viewers in 2021, which the network says is up 15% over its debut season in 2019.
In terms of game viewership, FOX says its broadcast window is also up double digits, 13%, from 2019. The network reports 2021 is its most-watched regular season ever, averaging almost 4 million viewers.
And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too. A sign college football fans everywhere are embracing the product the network is putting together each season.
Duke and Gonzaga Turn In Big Ratings For ESPN
“An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game.”
Conventional wisdom says that it isn’t basketball or hockey season until football is over. That is probably still true, but on Friday night ESPN proved that if you get big name programs with some star power together, college basketball can hang any time of the year.
Duke’s win over Gonzaga brought more eyeballs to ESPN’s coverage of early-season college basketball since 2018. An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game. That is the largest audience for a college basketball game played before New Year’s Day since the same two teams met in the finals of the Maui Invitational three years ago and drew 2.85 million viewers.
The real win is that the game outrated a college football game on the same night. ESPN’s coverage of NC State’s win over North Carolina only drew 2.68 million viewers. It is an added bonus that Duke can hold over their Tobacco Road rivals.
Before the game, Duke was ranked #5 and Gonzaga was ranked #1. After, Duke rose to #1. Since then, the Blue Devils fell to Ohio State and likely will drop in next week’s rankings. Still, every Duke game this season will come with a little extra attention. This is the final season with the legendary Mike Krzyzewski on the Duke bench.
Marcus Spears: I Would Put Mike Greenberg In The Hospital
“I love him, he’s my brother, but I would try and saw him in half because he has that stank arrogance of a quarterback.”
Dan Patrick had ESPN’s Marcus Spears on his show Tuesday and presented him with a topic that was very interesting.
Let’s be real, we all want to hit our co-workers from time to time, and Dan Patrick presented Spears with this hypothetical scenario for three of his fellow co-workers at ESPN.
“If I gave ya a free shot, would it be at Keyshawn Johnson, Ryan Clark, or Dan Orlovsky?” said Patrick.
“Dan Orlovsky, and I would try and saw him in half DP,” Spears replied. “I gotta be honest with you.”
“I love him, he’s my brother, but I would try and saw him in half because he has that stank arrogance of a quarterback. That comes off and sometimes you just want to let him know, you really aren’t an athlete.”
Dan Patrick then took the question up a level by adding a fourth option to the mix.
“What if I threw Greeny (Mike Greenberg) in there, would you choose him?”
Spears replied, “Yeah, I would want to see how long he would be in the hospital.”
The answer caused Patrick to bust out in laughter, which in turn made Marcus Spears laugh.
It will be interesting to see how the challenge and answer play out on the NFL Live and Get Up sets. Marcus Spears is one of the most likable personalities at ESPN. Certainly, there will be no bad blood. It will be curious if anyone has a challenge to throw back at him though.
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