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Kirk Herbstreit Extends ESPN Contract, Joins Amazon ‘Thursday Night Football’

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be monumental. For four months, I’m not really going to have any days off.”

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Kirk Herbstreit was officially introduced Wednesday as part of Amazon’s new Thursday Night Football broadcast team, providing color commentary alongside play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. But he’ll also be continuing the work at ESPN that made him one of the best-known football broadcasters in sports media.

Herbstreit has agreed to a contract extension with ESPN, which was also announced Wednesday. According to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, it’s a three-year extension added to the two years remaining on Herbstreit’s current deal.

Herbstreit will remain the top commentator on ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday morning pregame show and the No. 1 analyst with play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler on the ABC Saturday Night Football college football telecast. He will continue calling one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games and the National Championship game. Additionally, Herbstreit will maintain a role in ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage.

The extension continues Herbstreit’s 26-year relationship with ESPN, which began when he joined College GameDay in 1996.

“Kirk’s passion for college football and reverence for its traditions is unmatched,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro in the network’s official announcement. “His signature analysis and in-depth insight have earned him the respect of both fans and the teams he covers, and we are thrilled to ensure that Kirk will continue to be there for college football’s biggest moments for years to come.”

As mentioned, Amazon also officially introduced Herbstreit and Michaels as its new Thursday Night Football broadcast team. According to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, the new duo will call one preseason game for Amazon before making its regular-season debut on Sept. 15. Amazon will have 15 TNF broadcasts for the season and will later announce alternate feeds for those games.

With the Thursday Amazon broadcast followed by GameDay and a college football telecast on Saturday, Herbstreit is going to be a very busy man during the fall.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be monumental,” Herbstreit told the New York Post. “For four months, I’m not really going to have any days off.”

But he’s also going to be very well compensated. According to Marchand, Amazon will pay Herbstreit $10 million per season. While the financials of his ESPN deal weren’t announced, Marchand reports that his total package puts him near the $18 million Aikman will earn with ESPN annually.

Calling Thursday Night Football with Michaels will take some of the sting out of the disappointment Herbstreit says he felt when ESPN hired Aikman for Monday Night Football. He hoped that the network might eventually move him and Fowler to the MNF booth and a Super Bowl broadcast in 2027.

But Aikman going to ESPN obviously opened up the opportunity for Herbstreit to call NFL games for Amazon. While he won’t call a postseason game or Super Bowl there, it’s a showcase position for Herbstreit which will get plenty of attention from fans and media as he works with one of broadcasting’s greatest play-by-play voices.

Sports TV News

Nickelodeon Gets Christmas Day NFL Game

“This will be the network’s first regular season game.”

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The NFL’s Christmas triple header will include a little slime this year. The afternoon game between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos will be simulcast on CBS and Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon has ramped up its NFL presence each year since 2020. The network has aired a kid-friendly broadcast of a Wild Card Round playoff game each of the last two seasons. Last year’s tile between the 49ers and Cowboys drew an audience of 41 million.

Before the start of last season, the studio show NFL Slimetime debuted. This will be the network’s first regular season game.

Kickoff is set for 4:30 pm Eastern on Christmas Day. No details of what Nickelodeon’s coverage may include are available yet. Nate Burleson, Noah Eagle and Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green have been on the call of the network’s previous NFL broadcasts.

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Kentucky Derby Rebounds With 16 Million Viewers

“The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.”

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The Kentucky Derby has now eclipsed 15 million viewers in each of the last eight years that the event was not effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. An average audience of 16 million tuned in Saturday to see longshot Rich Strike win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.

During the weekend, the event kept finding new life on social media. According to an NBC Sports press release, the overhead shot of the final call drew big audiences across a number of the network’s digital platforms, having been viewed in total more than 36 million times.

Peacock also cashed in on the event’s success. The streaming platform posted an average minute audience of over 247,000 viewers during the Kentucky Derby.

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ESPN Releases Details For Joe Buck’s PGA Championship Broadcast

“Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host.”

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Omaha Productions and ESPN are getting ready for the PGA Championship. News broke last week that Joe Buck would make his ESPN debut at the center of alternative coverage of the event. Now the network is sharing a few details of the broadcast.

Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host. ESPN’s senior golf analyst will bring the perspective of a former caddie to the broadcast as well as the humor of a former comedian.

The duo will welcome plenty of guests too. The lineup suggests that while the broadcast will be built around golf, the conversations could go anywhere. Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, and Peyton & Eli Manning are all scheduled to make appearances.

“We loved doing Monday Night Football with ESPN and the entire Omaha team has been looking forward to producing alternate telecasts that celebrate other sports,” Peyton Manning said in a press release. “As one of golf’s majors, the PGA Championship is a perfect place to do our first one for golf and we look forward to working with Joe, Michael and everyone in ESPN’s golf team.”

Joe Buck and Michael Collins will be on TV for all four days of the PGA Championship. They will be on for four hours each day. The broadcast will alternate between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ depending on where the traditional coverage of the event is airing.

The PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins is the latest offering from ESPN’s deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. The company has also committed to produce alternate coverage of MMA and college football broadcasts in the future.

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