This NFL offseason saw the most competitive bidding war for on-screen tv talent considering the fact that the days of John Madden.
With Tony Romo’s initial contract expiring at CBS Sports, ESPN pursued the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback to turn out to be their lead “Monday Evening Football” analyst.
But the 40-year-old Romo chose to keep with CBS, signing a $one hundred million contract extension that will make him the richest sportscaster in Television history. At $17 million a year, Romo’s new deal represents a 467% raise in annual salary from his original $three million-a-year pact.
With Peyton Manning once again turning down Television feelers, ESPN looked internally to produce a new “Monday Evening Football” booth. The network named Louis Riddick and Brian Griese as colour analysts and Steve Levy as its play-by-play announcer.
It also brought back Lisa Salters and John Parry as sideline reporter and officiating analyst, respectively. Final year’s “Monday Evening Football” duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland have been reassigned to other duties.
The competing tactics of these networks are taking location against the looming backdrop of billion-dollar NFL media rights negotiations.
The networks collectively spend more than $five billion a year for rights to televise NFL games. The NFL’s deal with ESPN expires right after the 2021 season even though the league’s contracts with CBS, Fox Sports and NBC Sports are up right after the 2022 season.
The NFL insists on the ideal — Television partners know they ought to have A-list talent in front of and behind the camera if they want to retain their rights in coming years.
Here’s a scouting report on the many NFL announce teams this season. Commentator teams are broken down by Play-by-Play Announcer / Game Analyst / Sideline Reporter / Guidelines and/or Officiating Analyst:
ESPN: Just after swinging and missing on Romo, a expense-conscious ESPN turned to its personal internal talent throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Riddick was due. He narrowly missed out on the job to McFarland a handful of years back. Levy, the longtime “SportsCenter” anchor has smartly reinvented himself as a play-by-play announcer. Griese is a pro who has named the second half of “Monday Evening Football” doubleheaders preceding seasons. The veteran Salters ought to steady the ship. Plus, Parry ought to be a lot more comfy in his second year on the job.
ESPN’s new booth could also be a stopgap tactic. The network could nonetheless swoop in and employ Manning if “Monday Evening Football” returns to broadcast Television on sister Disney network ABC in 2022. Or if Disney lands two separate game packages for ESPN and ABC.
It also enables Disney/ESPN to hold their possibilities open for any retiring NFL quarterback hunting to be the “next Romo,” like Philip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts.
ESPN Game Group: ESPN’s new “Monday Evening Football” commentator group of Riddick, Griese, Levy, Salters and Parry make their debut Sept. 14. The group will contact the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos: the second game of ESPN’s Week 1 doubleheader.
ESPN will be the only NFL Television network with a 3-particular person booth as their No. 1 group this season. The old “Monday Evening Football” group of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford became sports legends. But a lot more current 3-particular person booths at ESPN have crashed and burned.
These ill-fated Television trios contain: Jason Witten, McFarland (on his movable “BoogerMobile” crane) and Tessitore in 2018 Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico from 2009-2011 and Tony Kornheiser, Jaworski and Tirico from 2006-2008. We’ll see how the new group fares this season:
- Play-by-Play: Steve Levy / Game Analysts: Louis Riddick-Brian Griese/ Sideline Reporter: Lisa Salters / Officiating Analyst: John Parry
ESPN Pregame Shows: ESPN ordinarily adds and subtracts a number of talents on its pregame shows. But there will not be any key modifications except for Riddick and McFarland successfully swapping jobs.
Riddick goes to the “Monday Evening Football” broadcast booth from the “Monday Evening Countdown” pregame show. McFarland will do the opposite.
Sunday NFL Countdown: Samantha Ponder returns for her fourth year as host. She’ll be joined by analysts Randy Moss, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Ryan, plus NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.
Monday Evening Countdown: Suzy Kolber is back for her fourth year as host. She’ll host the halftime and postgame segments from ESPN’s new rooftop studio in New York City. McFarland successfully replaces Riddick. They’ll be joined by Moss, Steve Young and Matt Hasselbeck, plus Schefter.
The “Monday Evening Countdown” crew ordinarily travels to the web-site of the game. But due to the pandemic, they’ll keep in New York with the exception of the San Francisco-primarily based Young who will travel to most games.
Wild Card: We’ll come across out if there are, once again, also numerous voices in the “Monday Evening Football” booth this year.
Crucial Behind-The-Scenes Players: Showrunner Phil Dean was named producer of “Monday Evening Football” in April, becoming just the seventh producer in the show’s 51-year history. Steve Ackels becomes the show’s new senior coordinating producer. He adds “Monday Evening Football” to his college football duties.
FOX SPORTS: Fox is an NFL powerhouse, controlling the NFC game package. The network’s late Sunday afternoon game window has ranked as the No. 1 Television show for 11 straight years. “Fox NFL Sunday” has ranked as the No. 1 pregame show in its time slot for 26 years.
Fox also has “Thursday Evening Football,” creating it the only NFL Television companion with two separate game packages.
Fox Game Teams: Play-by-play announcer, colour analyst Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, sideline reporter Erin Andrews and guidelines analyst Mike Pereira return as No. 1 group.
This will be Buck and Aikman’s 19th year collectively in the booth, creating them the longest-tenured NFL game duo on the air. But Fox yanked Thom Brennaman off his NFL game duties right after he was caught on a hot mic saying an anti-gay slur on the air throughout a Cincinnati Reds game. The network also recruited newcomers Adam Amin and Jonathan Vilma from ESPN:
- Play-by-Play: Joe Buck / Game Analyst: Troy Aikman / Sideline Reporter: Erin Andrews / Guidelines Analyst: Mike Pereira (Sundays)
- PxP: Joe Buck / Analyst: Troy Aikman / SR: Kristinia Pink/ RA: Mike Pereira (“Thursday Evening Football”)
- PxP: Kevin Burkhardt / Analyst: Daryl Johnston / SR: Pam Oliver (Sundays)
- PxP Adam Amin / Analyst: Mark Schlereth / SR: Lindsay Czarniak (Sundays)
- PxP: Kenny Albert / Analyst: Jonathan Vilma / SR: Shannon Spake (Sundays)
- PxP: Kevin Kugler / Game Analyst: Chris Spielman / SR: Laura Okmin (Sundays)
- PxP: Chris Myers / Analysts: Greg Jennings-Brock Huard / SR: Jennifer Hale (Sundays)
Added Play-by-Play Announcers: Tim Brando, Dick Stockton, Joe Davis, and Brandon Gaudin.
Added Game Analysts: Brady Quinn, Matt Millen and Robert Smith.
Added Sideline Reporters: Megan Olivi, Sarah Kustok, Sara Walsh.
- Play-by-Play: Adrian Garcia Marquez / Game Analyst: Rolando Cantu/ Sideline Reporter: Jaime Motta
Fox NFL Pregame Shows: The complete cast of the leading-rated “Fox NFL Sunday” is back.
Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee will co-host. Howie Lengthy, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson return as analysts —the 77-year old Johnson will function remotely. Jay Glazer will be back also as an NFL Insider.
Airing an hour prior to “Fox NFL Sunday,” Charissa Thompson once again hosts “Fox NFL Kickoff” at 11 a.m. ET with Michael Vick, Tony Gonzalez, Dave Wannstedt, Colin Cowherd and Cooper Manning.
The “Fox NFL Thursday” pregame show, meanwhile, will co-star Bradshaw, Menefee and Gonzalez, with Strahan, Lengthy and Glazer chipping in remotely.
Wild Card: It will be intriguing to track the rating effect from Tom Brady’s move to the NFC with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fox will air as numerous Brady games as achievable, beginning with his Week 1 matchup against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints Sep. 13 (four:25 p.m. ET). Fox will also show Brady’s Bucs on “Thursday Evening Football” in Week five vs. the Chicago Bears, then vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the late Sunday afternoon game window of Week six.
Crucial Behind-The-Scenes Player: Brad Zager, executive producer and executive vice president/head of production & operations. Zager has been increasing in energy considering the fact that taking more than reside occasion production and pre and post-game shows from John Entz in early 2019. He reports straight to Mark Silverman, president of National Networks.
CBS SPORTS: CBS controls the AFC game package. The network’s late Sunday afternoon game window is a single of the most-watched shows on Television. The Tiffany Network is set to televise Super Bowl LV from Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.
CBS Game Teams: CBS was at the center of the most significant off-season drama as ESPN attempted to pry Romo away from the network’s No. 1 announce group with Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson. But Romo re-upped with CBS in a deal that will spend him an estimated $17 million a year.
With the Romo sweepstakes lastly more than, CBS recruited Charles Davis from Fox to serve as its No. two game analyst, succeeding Dan Fouts. CBS also designed two new broadcast teams, pairing Kevin Harlan with Trent Green and Melanie Collins and Greg Gumbel with Wealthy Gannon:
- PxP: Jim Nantz / Game Analyst: Tony Romo / Sideline Reporter: Tracy Wolfson
- PxP: Ian Eagle / Analyst: Charles Davis / SR: Evan Washburn
- PxP: Kevin Harlan / Analyst: Trent Green / SR: Melanie Collins
- PxP: Greg Gumbel / Analyst: Wealthy Gannon
- PxP: Andrew Catalon / Analyst: James Lofton
- PxP: Spero Dedes / Analyst: Adam Archuleta
- PxP: Tom McCarthy / Analyst: Jay Feely
- PxP: Beth Mowins / Analyst: Tiki Barber.
CBS Pregame Show: The cast of James Brown, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, and Nate Burleson on “The NFL Today” will be back for their fourth year collectively. Jason La Canfora and Gene Steratore will reprise their respective roles as NFL Insider and Guidelines Analyst.
Wild Card: Whilst CBS’ AFC Television markets are smaller sized than Fox’s NFC markets, the network was gifted by the football gods by possessing AFC stars Brady and Manning battle it out for two decades. CBS’ run of great luck continues with arguably the NFL’s two present most significant stars — Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens — playing in the AFC.
Crucial Behind-The-Scenes Players: Jim Rikhoff, lead game producer for “The NFL on CBS” and Michael Arnold, lead game director. Rikhoff is close mates with Romo. He and Nantz speedily mentored the rookie broadcaster into a single of TV’s ideal game analysts.
NBC SPORTS: The Peacock network could possibly be in the strongest position of any NFL media companion. NBC’s seasoned group of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya have worked collectively considering the fact that 2011.
“Sunday Evening Football” has ranked as the No. 1 show in prime time a record nine straight years, beating “American Idol” (six years), “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers” and “All in the Family” (5 years) and “Gunsmoke” (4 years).
But the winds of modifications are blowing at NBC also. To reduce down on his cross-nation travel, the 77-year old Michaels will take some “bye” weeks off this season. Beginning Week three, heir apparent Mike Tirico will fill in for Michaels throughout some telecasts this season.
NBC Game Group: Play-by-Play: Al Michaels-Mike Tirico / Game Analyst: Cris Collinsworth / Sideline Reporter: Michele Tafoya / Guidelines Analyst: Terry McAulay
NBC Pregame Show: Jac Collinsworth tends to make his debut on “Football Evening in America” this season. Tirico, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Chris Simms, Mike Florio and Liam McHugh are all back this year.
Wild Card: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is anticipated to join NBC Sports when he retires from the NFL subsequent year, according to the New York Post. Will Tirico and Brees succeed Michaels and Collinsworth sooner rather than later — building a new NBC group of Tirico-Brees-Tafoya?
Crucial Behind-the-Scenes Players: Executive producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff have been with NBC’s “Sunday Evening Football” considering the fact that its get started in 2006. Tirico will contact a single of NBC’s two Wild Card playoff telecasts this season, according to Gaudelli.
NFL NETWORK: For the initial time considering the fact that 2006, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders will not be an NFL Network contributor. Sanders exited in August for a gig at Barstool Sports right after his contract with NFL Network expired. Dan Hellie, who hosted a number of studio shows considering the fact that he joined the network in 2013, also will not return as his contract expired in the offseason. MJ Acosta-Ruiz is the new host of “NFL Total Access.”
NFL Network will have the initial 3 “Thursday Evening Football” games (Bengals vs. Browns in Week two, Dolphins vs. Jaguars in Week three and Broncos vs. Jets in Week four) prior to Fox (and Amazon Prime) get into the action to broadcast 11 “Thursday Evening Football” games. These games will be simulcast on NFL Network.
NFL Network Pregame Show: Wealthy Eisen, who joined NFL Network just prior to its 2003 launch, is back as host of “NFL GameDay Morning.” Analysts Steve Mariucci, Kurt Warner, Michael Irvin, reporter Ian Rapoport and analytics specialist Cynthia Frelund return as properly, but they will contribute in a significantly diverse way. Eisen will be the only component of the group that will be in the studio consistently as the other people will use camera setups from household every single week.
NFL Network TNF Pregame/Postgame Shows: Colleen Wolfe will once again host the “Thursday Evening Football” pregame show with former pros Irvin, Steve Smith Sr. and Joe Thomas, while there will be no “road show” this season as outcome of the pandemic. There also will not be Sanders. Wolfe will be in the studio from Los Angeles as Irvin, Smith and Thomas will contribute remotely.
Wild Card: This is the third season of the so-named “tri-cast” that consists of Fox, NFL Network and Amazon carrying the 11-game slate that begins in Week five. Streaming — which the NFL negotiated outdoors its deal with Fox — has turn out to be a profitable and audience-expanding endeavor for the league.
Below a deal announced earlier this year, Amazon’s new multi-year pact additional expands its “Thursday Evening Football” attain to 200 nations and territories via Amazon Prime and Twitch streaming solutions. Amazon will also exclusively stream a single normal season game later in the season.
Crucial Behind-the-Scenes Player: Mike Muriano, NFL Network’s executive producer for studio and remote content material, has worked this offseason to make sure the in-household setups for talent are not bogged down by world-wide-web targeted traffic troubles. Hosts returned to the studio right after a 4-month hiatus in July, but reporters and analysts will function largely from household this season.
FOS senior reporter A.J. Perez contributed to this story.