Days after ESPN hired Troy Aikman before Amazon could finalize a deal with the analyst, Amazon may try to poach one of ESPN’s top football voices.
The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Amazon is targeting Kirk Herbstreit for its NFL Thursday Night Football analyst position. Of course, Herbstreit is ESPN/ABC’s No. 1 college football game analyst and a key part of ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday pregame show. He’s arguably the network’s top voice on the sport across its programming.
But according to Marchand, his current contract may allow him to broadcast NFL games with another outlet while continuing to call college football with ESPN. As could be expected, however, lawyers would likely have something to say about that, possibly interpreting that contract in different ways. Disney’s lawyers might say his ESPN contract wouldn’t allow him to work for Amazon.
Additionally, ESPN would still be interested in Herbstreit calling NFL games for the network even if he took the TNF Amazon job. With its new rights deal, ESPN (with ABC and ESPN+) will have up to 25 games per season, including 23 regular-season games, Divisional Round playoff games in addition to Wild Card playoffs, and Super Bowls in the 2026 and 2030 seasons. The network will need more than the regular Monday Night Football crew to call those broadcasts.
Marchand’s report clarifies that serious talks between Amazon and Herbstreit haven’t begun. Yet that’s expected to change soon.
Obviously, calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC would be a considerable workload. But Herbstreit has expressed interest in broadcasting both college football and NFL games in the past.
Herbstreit has dabbled in NFL broadcasting during the past few years. He was part of NFL Draft coverage for ESPN in 2018 and last year for ABC. In 2020, he called the first game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader with regular play-by-play partner Chris Fowler. Last season, the two returned to call the first game of ESPN/ABC’s NFL Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.
Speaking of Fowler, Marchand mentions that ESPN is considering Fowler as the play-by-play partner for Aikman on Monday Night Football, along with Joe Buck, Al Michaels, and Ian Eagle. Could both Herbstreit and Fowler call NFL games — and for different entities — then reunite each Saturday for their usual college football showcase?
Just about anything seems possible — though improbable — in this frenzied NFL broadcasting carousel.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.