Sports TV News
Kirk Herbstreit Reportedly On Amazon’s Radar For ‘Thursday Night Football’
Herbstreit’s current contract may allow him to broadcast NFL games with another outlet while continuing to call college football with ESPN.
Days after ESPN hired Troy Aikman before Amazon could finalize a deal with the analyst, Amazon may try to poach one of ESPN’s top football voices.
The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Amazon is targeting Kirk Herbstreit for its NFL Thursday Night Football analyst position. Of course, Herbstreit is ESPN/ABC’s No. 1 college football game analyst and a key part of ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday pregame show. He’s arguably the network’s top voice on the sport across its programming.
But according to Marchand, his current contract may allow him to broadcast NFL games with another outlet while continuing to call college football with ESPN. As could be expected, however, lawyers would likely have something to say about that, possibly interpreting that contract in different ways. Disney’s lawyers might say his ESPN contract wouldn’t allow him to work for Amazon.
Additionally, ESPN would still be interested in Herbstreit calling NFL games for the network even if he took the TNF Amazon job. With its new rights deal, ESPN (with ABC and ESPN+) will have up to 25 games per season, including 23 regular-season games, Divisional Round playoff games in addition to Wild Card playoffs, and Super Bowls in the 2026 and 2030 seasons. The network will need more than the regular Monday Night Football crew to call those broadcasts.
Marchand’s report clarifies that serious talks between Amazon and Herbstreit haven’t begun. Yet that’s expected to change soon.
Obviously, calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC would be a considerable workload. But Herbstreit has expressed interest in broadcasting both college football and NFL games in the past.
Herbstreit has dabbled in NFL broadcasting during the past few years. He was part of NFL Draft coverage for ESPN in 2018 and last year for ABC. In 2020, he called the first game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader with regular play-by-play partner Chris Fowler. Last season, the two returned to call the first game of ESPN/ABC’s NFL Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.
Speaking of Fowler, Marchand mentions that ESPN is considering Fowler as the play-by-play partner for Aikman on Monday Night Football, along with Joe Buck, Al Michaels, and Ian Eagle. Could both Herbstreit and Fowler call NFL games — and for different entities — then reunite each Saturday for their usual college football showcase?
Just about anything seems possible — though improbable — in this frenzied NFL broadcasting carousel.
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 email@example.com.
Sports TV News
ESPN Employees Brace For Major Layoffs
“According to Front Office Sports, 700 jobs have been cut, including those of anchors, reporters and analysts, since 2015.”
As the restructuring at Disney continues under CEO Bob Iger, tough decisions regarding people’s careers with the company are being made.
The jobs of 7,000 Disney employees will be eliminated as the company tries to save $5.5 billion in costs.
Stephen A. Smith, on a recent episode of his podcast K[no]w Mercy, said ESPN is not going to escape unscathed.
“ESPN is under the Disney umbrella,” Smith said. “They’re going to have cuts coming.”
ESPN has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years. According to Front Office Sports, 700 jobs have been cut, including those of anchors, reporters and analysts, since 2015.
Stephen A., who has an annual salary of $13 million, said no one’s job is safe.
“Hell, for all I know, I might be one of them,” Smith said. “Now, I doubt that. But it’s possible. No one knows.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Sports TV News
Steve Rosenberg Out As President of Diamond Sports Group
“John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change.”
A company declaring bankruptcy is never good for the people at the top. Steve Rosenberg is experiencing that right now. He is out as the president of Diamond Sports Group.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change. In it, Diamond CEO David Preschlack wrote that CFO David DeVoe will assume Rosenberg’s responsibilities for now.
Steve Rosenberg joined Sinclair in 2020. He replaced Jeff Krolik as the company’s president of local sports.
Last week, Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company intends to work out new deals with the NBA and NHL for its Bally Sports RSNs in hopes that it will remain in tact. Ourand writes that an attempt to do the same with Major League Baseball has not yielded meaningful results as of yet.
“With the recent appointments we have made to the senior leadership team, and the talented staff we have throughout the organization, I am confident in this team’s ability to work together to execute our strategic goals at this time,” Preschlack wrote in his memo.
Sports TV News
Variety Predicts Sports Betting Broadcasts Future of RSNs
“With the state of the RSN business a little hazy for some networks, closer integration with gambling is something that VIP+ expects to be leant into more in an effort to engage the most passionate local fans.”
The sports betting market grew in 2022. With five new states legalizing mobile wagering last year, that is not a surprise. The overall take for sportsbooks was $93.4 billion. That is a whopping 84% growth over 2021.
With so much money coming from new markets, Variety wanted to get an idea of how much the sports betting industry is actually growing versus how much of the growth is artificial.
The study from the publication’s VIP+ shows that in markets with a full year of mobile wagering on the books before 2022, the growth is slower but still significant at 19%. Writer Gavin Bridge suggests that the statistic could hold the answer for the future of regional sports networks.
“While winning money was the most popular reason for sports betting, data provided by VIP+’s research partner CRG Global in our ‘Sports Gambling & Media‘ report show that one of the most popular reasons was that betting ‘makes the games I watch more exciting,’ with several other reasons relating to watching televised games also important to some betters,” he writes.
With regional sports networks looking for a new model in the face of serious economic uncertainty, Bridge points to Comcast’s regional NBC Sports networks as a reasonable path forward.
Through its partnership with PointsBet, NBC offers alternate broadcasts of the local teams it covers that have a gambling focus. The alternate feed have not been available for every game on the RSNs, but Bridge writes that we could see more of that in the future.
“With the state of the RSN business a little hazy for some networks, closer integration with gambling is something that VIP+ expects to be leant into more in an effort to engage the most passionate local fans. Ultimately, sports betting overlays and alternative game feeds can be anticipated for most major sports in the coming years as media partners look for new revenue streams and ways to engage fans for longer.”