Don’t pencil in Al Michaels for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football play-by-play opening quite yet.
The wide belief throughout the sports TV industry is that Michaels will indeed go to Amazon after his contract with NBC expires following Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13. But according to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, ESPN is considering taking a run at the legendary broadcaster for its Monday Night Football broadcast.
Amazon and Michaels haven’t apparently reached an agreement yet. Though there are some who wonder if that might get finalized in the next couple of weeks so Michaels can give a proper goodbye at the close of the Super Bowl telecast.
But Amazon hasn’t settled on a potential broadcast partner for Michaels yet, and that choice could influence whether or not this becomes a done deal. Troy Aikman appears to be the favorite for the analyst spot and he’ll reportedly have to decide whether or not to call a game for Amazon and Fox each week or move over exclusively to Amazon.
Or, as Marchand speculates, perhaps he and Michaels will decide to go to ESPN if that becomes an option.
Does this mean that ESPN wants to blow up its current MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick? Marchand has reported that Griese’s contract is up, so the network is surely evaluating whether or not to bring the three-man crew back.
In the process, ESPN also apparently wants to see if there’s any interest from Michaels, though Marchand says no conversations have occurred.
Other options for a Michaels partner, whether it’s with Amazon or ESPN, could be Sean Payton (who is reportedly stepping down as New Orleans Saints coach), Pete Carroll, or Sean McVay. Carroll is still the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach, while McVay is coaching the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s NFC Championship game amid a possible Super Bowl run.
(Marchand contradicts reports that Fox would consider Payton as a replacement for Aikman on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team with Joe Buck, reporting that the network is more interested in him as a studio analyst.)
It’s also entirely possible that Michaels’ representatives are floating this ESPN possibility to create some urgency with Amazon and get the best deal possible. Michaels returning to MNF, where he was the play-by-play voice for 20 years with ABC and ESPN, would be the sort of headline-grabbing move that ESPN has long sought for its showcase NFL telecast.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Goodell: ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ To See Thursday Night Football Move to Flex Scheduling
“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”
In 2023, Monday Night Football will join Sunday Night Football in having the ability to flex NFL games into its window. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday Night Football could someday join that elite club.
During his “State of the League” speech Wednesday, Goodell said Thursday Night Football having the ability to flex matchups “wouldn’t at all surprise me”.
“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon,” the NFL Commissioner said.
ESPN bargained for the ability to move higher profile games into Monday Night Football during its negotiations with the league for the next television contract that begins this upcoming season.
NBC has long held the ability to shift a select number of games from earlier windows into the Sunday Night Football primetime slot.
Amazon Prime Video just completed the first of an 11-year contract that sees the streaming platform spend nearly $1 billion per year on the Thursday Night Football package.
One of the largest storylines of Amazon’s debut season with the NFL was the near-constant ridicule from play-by-play announcer Al Michaels over the lackluster TNF schedule. Michaels made headlines over several weeks for his candor on the lack of interesting matchups, going as far as to joke that if the schedule didn’t improve he would retire.
Michael Irvin Removed From NFL Network Super Bowl Coverage
“I came into the lobby and I talked to somebody. I talked to this girl. I don’t know her, and I talked to her for about 45 seconds.”
A complaint from a female to NFL Network has caused the network to remove Michael Irvin from its Super Bowl coverage.
NFL Network did not comment on the nature of the complaint or the allegation of any impropriety by Irvin, simply stating Irvin would not be a participant in coverage of the event from Arizona.
“Michael Irvin will not be a part of NFL Network’s Super Bowl LVII week coverage,” said NFL Media Vice President of Communications Alex Riethmiller in a statement.
Irvin claimed the interaction happened during a brief moment Sunday after having dinner and drinks with former Cowboy defensive back Michael Brooks.
“This all happened in a 45-second conversation in the lobby,” Irvin told The Dallas Morning News. “When I got back after going out … I came into the lobby and I talked to somebody. I talked to this girl. I don’t know her, and I talked to her for about 45 seconds. We shook hands. Then, I left…That’s all I know.”
Irvin, 56, admitted he didn’t recall the conversation between him and the female but called the interaction “just a friendly conversation”. He defended himself by saying “There was definitely nothing physical”.
The report from The Dallas Morning News added that Glendale police officials do not know about any incident regarding Irvin.
A report from Front Office Sports claims ESPN executives are “poised to pull the plug” on Irvin’s scheduled appearance on First Take from Radio Row Friday.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer has been with NFL Network since 2009, and in August of last year signed an extension to remain with the cable channel.
Pro Bowl Lowest Rated Since 2006
While the numbers decreased, the Pro Bowl was still the second-highest rated All-Star Game for the major professional sports leagues.
The NFL completely revamped its Pro Bowl format for the 2022 season, and the changes did not garner more viewers.
An average of 6.28 million viewers tuned into the event across ABC, ESPN, and DisneyXD Sunday for the first 7-on-7 event. That number is a decrease of 6% compared to last year and is the lowest-rated Pro Bowl since the 2006 event saw just 5.96 million viewers. That figure excludes the 2021 Pro Bowl, which was a “virtual” event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the numbers decreased, the Pro Bowl was still the second-highest-rated All-Star Game for the major professional sports leagues, with the MLB All-Star Game seeing an average viewership of 7.51 million. The 6.28 million who watched the Pro Bowl is a virtual tie with last season’s NBA All-Star Game.
The Pro Bowl Skills Challenge — now produced by Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions — did see a large increase in viewership compared to last year. More than 1 million viewers tuned into the Thursday night primetime event, which is the second-best figure on record. That audience is a 23% increase compared to last year’s event.