Just as reports circulated about Amazon showing interest in ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit for its Thursday Night Football analyst opening, news of the streaming platform meeting with another prospective broadcaster is making the rounds.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Amazon is meeting with former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton this week regarding the TNF gig. Perhaps this is the meeting that Amazon originally wanted with Sean McVay. Regardless, Florio reports this is the second time that Payton has met with Amazon executives, which would appear to indicate the sides are inching toward an agreement.
News of Payton meeting with Amazon comes just days after Fox reportedly entered negotiations with the coach. Does this mean that talks with Fox hit a wall? Or are Payton and his representatives doing their due diligence in exploring all possible options?
Previous reports indicated that Fox was more interested in Payton as a studio analyst, perhaps to eventually replace Jimmy Johnson for the coaching perspective on the Fox NFL Sunday studio crew. He could work on the Fox NFL Kickoff team before that or bounce between the two shows.
But with Troy Aikman reportedly leaving Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team for ESPN and Monday Night Football, the network has an opening alongside Joe Buck and Payton would be a splashy name that attracts headlines (and, hopefully, viewers). And as Florio points out, Fox might not pay as much as Amazon but the over-the-air network has a greater reach and more established credibility with fans.
One concern with hiring Payton would be whether or not he intends to return to NFL coaching (notably the Dallas Cowboys) after taking a year off from the grind. Fox presumably would consider it less of an issue if they had to replace him on a studio crew after one season. But as the analyst on the No. 1 broadcast team, that seems more problematic in terms of developing on-screen chemistry and familiarity with viewers.
Putting play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck in the position of working with two different analysts in consecutive seasons seems unfair to him. But maybe the subtext to such a move would be that this is an experiment.
There’s no guarantee Payton will be good as a broadcaster. And if he’s a flop, Fox could just move Greg Olsen up to that spot, which they could’ve done anyway. Any bad publicity from making changes so often might be offset by the big headlines attracted by putting a top NFL coach in the booth.
Of course, that’s making the presumption that Payton wants to return to coaching. Maybe he doesn’t, especially since the money in broadcasting is so much better for a far less demanding lifestyle.
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.