Troy Aikman and Joe Buck have jumped ship from Fox to become the new broadcast team for Monday Night Football on ESPN. Aikman and Buck are just two of several NFL broadcasters who were on the move following this past season.
Even though Aikman is happy he will get to continue calling games alongside one of his best friends, he told Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated that he remains confused and disappointed in how Fox handled the situation.
Earlier this month, BSM covered Aikman explaining he became a free agent after hearing just one contract offer from Fox. He said his bosses basically sat back while the Hall of Fame quarterback had contract discussions with both Amazon to join its Thursday Night Football booth and ESPN.
Aikman told Traina that after Fox agreed to let him opt out of the remainder of his contract after six months, he never heard from his boss until he called to congratulate him on the ESPN deal.
“I guess it’s disappointing. I would’ve thought there would’ve been a conversation at least,” he said. “And then when I did talk with him, I just asked for an explanation on some things that I didn’t quite understand, and he opted not to do that as well. I guess that’s where it’s left and that’s how I’ll leave Fox and that’s fine. I’m excited about ESPN and thrilled to continue to work with Joe.”
It was clear Aikman was going to be offered a lot more money in his next contract than he previously made. He said his job performance had nothing to do with his Fox departure.
“There was no reason for me to believe Fox was unhappy with anything I had done, my work,” he told Traina. “I think they were happy with Joe and I. Again, I’m merely speculating because I was never told, but I’m guessing it was an opportunity for Fox to hit the reset button on the economics of the No. 1 booth.”
Aikman also mentioned how no one at Fox kept Joe in the loop about what Aikman was doing, and that the network probably hated to lose Buck because of the value he brings to the table away from the microphone.
“He has been a valued asset, but he’s probably as confused as I am in the sense that, you know, the talks that I was having with Amazon were going on for quite some time and yet there were no conversations going on with Joe and how that might impact him,” Aikman said.
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.