The great NFL broadcasting carousel of the 2022 offseason has almost come to a stop, with only Fox’s No. 1 analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt still to be resolved.
ESPN officially announced its new Monday Night Football team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, a seismic move in sports media. Amazon soon followed by introducing the crew for its upcoming Thursday Night Football broadcast, Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit.
And while there wasn’t an official introduction directly from NBC, plenty of outlets — including Deadline, Variety, and the Hollywood Reporter — were given the announcement that Mike Tirico is taking over the Sunday Night Football play-by-play chair alongside incumbent analyst Cris Collinsworth.
The news was a formality, really. It was widely presumed that Tirico would step into that role. It’s essentially why NBC hired Tirico from ESPN, to eventually succeed Michaels on TV’s No. 1 primetime broadcast.
Nonetheless, Collinsworth took the opportunity last week to pay tribute and say goodbye to his longtime broadcast partner with a quick clip of something viewers have come to know and love to begin the SNF telecast: The “Collinsworth Slide.”
“Come slide in here one more time,” said Michaels to Collinsworth, who rolled his chair into frame for the customary two-shot to introduce the telecast and set up the Super Bowl LVI clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.
That was their final broadcast together after 13 years calling NFL games for NBC, the last time Collinsworth would slide over to Michaels on camera.
“It started off as the dumbest thing ever,” Collinsworth explained to Pardon My Take in 2020. “They would put a mark down and say put one leg on either side of the mark… Well, Al opens the show by himself. He’s done it forever. It’s Al Michaels and America in a one-on-one, sort of bonding exercise that he does.
“So in order to do the one-on-one, they said ‘Cris, you gotta get out of the shot.’ I was like, OK, what do you want me to do? You want me to put my legs between the mark on the thing or do you want me in the shot? ‘Well, just lean out.’ Just lean out and give Al some room so he can do his thing… How it became a thing, I have no idea.”
Now, Collinsworth will be sliding over to join Tirico in the frame. Kirk Herbstreit wouldn’t dare try to emulate the slide on Thursday Night Football, would he? Even Michaels might have something to say about that.
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.