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Joe Buck Reportedly Leaving Fox for ESPN and ‘Monday Night Football’

Buck’s deal will reportedly be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million.

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Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will remain together in the broadcast booth. And ESPN has their play-by-play man for Monday Night Football.

The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Fox allowed Buck to enter contract talks with ESPN, and Buck is expected to sign a deal to call MNF. Fox could have prevented Buck from talking to ESPN, but apparently the network decided to let him pursue a larger deal as a “thank you for your service” gesture. He’s been with Fox since 1994.

Buck had one year remaining on his deal with Fox for a reported $11 million, so it’s reasonable to presume that he’ll get a raise at ESPN in addition to a multi-year agreement. According to Marchand, Buck’s deal will be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million. So at least a $1 million annual raise, but possibly up to $4 million.

Aikman has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $92.5 million contract to be the analyst in the MNF booth. The $18.5 million annual salary surpasses what Tony Romo earns with CBS in the 10-year contract that he signed two years ago. That deal will likely be officially announced once Buck is inked to a deal and ESPN can introduce its new Monday Night Football team together.

After he left Fox for ESPN, Aikman made it clear that he would like to continue working with Buck, with whom he worked for 20 years on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. That seemed unlikely with Buck still under contract, but ESPN obviously had a lucrative offer and Aikman has indicated that Fox is only willing to pay so much to keep its talent.

The question now becomes who replaces Buck and Aikman at Fox. And where will Al Michaels go? With Fox, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are expected to move up to the No. 1 booth, but the network might want to do something splashier now. Could that involve Michaels? Or is he now all but assured to go to Amazon, which has been rumored for months? (The possibility of Michaels calling the NFL and returning to baseball at Fox is extremely intriguing.)

Will Buck only call Monday Night Football for ESPN? He was Fox’s top play-by-play broadcaster for Major League Baseball, calling showcase events like the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series (which he’s broadcasted for 24 seasons). It’s unlikely he would call Sunday Night Baseball, especially during NFL season. But the network also just named Karl Ravech as SNB‘s play-by-play announcer with analysts David Cone and Eduardo Perez.

With Buck previously expressing interest in branching out with a talk show at HBO, could there be a possibility of him doing something like a recurring interview or feature series? (The HBO show was canceled after only three episodes, and Buck has said it was a bad experience.)

Maybe Buck is content to just call Monday Night Football (especially if that’s all his ESPN deal calls for) while indulging his creative, playful side with his podcast, Daddy Issues, co-hosted with actor Oliver Hudson.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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