ESPN has made it official: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are the new broadcast team on Monday Night Football.
The network issued a release on Wednesday announcing that both broadcasters have been signed to multi-year agreements. The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand previously reported that Aikman’s deal is for five years and $90 million, while Buck’s contract is also for five years ranging between $60 million and $75 million.
Buck and Aikman both moving to ESPN together means that their long broadcast relationship will continue, having been together for 20 years on Fox. With their 21st season together, ESPN points out that they will match Pat Summerall and John Madden, arguably the greatest broadcasting team ever, for the longest run by an NFL announcing duo.
Lisa Salters remains as MNF‘s sideline reporter, going into her 11th season on the broadcast. And John Parry will return as the production’s officiating analyst.
“The opportunity to be a voice on Monday Night Football, adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective,” said Aikman in a statement. “As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week. Joe and I are humbled to be part of that same tradition that has existed for more than 50 years across generations of football fans.”
ESPN’s release mentions that both Buck and Aikman will contribute content to ESPN+. Besides the obvious appeal of multi-million dollar contracts, the possibility of doing more for the network besides calling Monday Night Football appeared to be a draw.
No details on what the two will do were revealed, but with Buck previously attempting an HBO talk show, maybe he’d be interested in a feature interview series. Aikman could perhaps show further insight as an analyst in ESPN+’s Detail series, though Peyton Manning has the football angle covered there. Maybe the two have interest in producing some documentary content.
It should be noted that ESPN mentioned nothing about Buck calling baseball, which was natural to speculate since he was the voice of Major League Baseball on Fox for 24 years. But with the network getting extra Wild Card playoff games in MLB’s expanded postseason, maybe Buck will make an appearance there.
“Everything about Monday Night Football, including the broadcast, set the standard for the modern NFL experience,” Buck said in the announcement. “My earliest memories of walking around football stadiums are tagging along with my dad as he called Monday Night Football on radio. To return to the stadium on Monday nights with Troy – who I have the utmost comfort with and confidence in – and begin a new chapter, for us and ESPN, has me excited about this season and our future.”
The announcement also reiterates that ESPN will broadcast 25 games each season as part of its new 10-year rights deal with the NFL. That schedule will be comprised of 23 regular-season games, a Wild Card playoff game, and a Divisional Playoff match-up. Buck and Aikman obviously can’t call all of those broadcasts, so we’ll see additional announcing teams during the season.
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will likely be one of them when available. Will this mean that ESPN’s former MNF team of Steve Levy and Louis Riddick will also be on the call? (Brian Griese has left broadcasting with the expiration of his ESPN contract, becoming the quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers.)
Buck and Aikman’s first Monday Night Football broadcast is scheduled for Sept. 12, with Phil Dean producing and Jimmy Platt directing.
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 email@example.com.
FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling
“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”
An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.
Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.
The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.
The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
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.”