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Al Michaels to Amazon, ‘Thursday Night Football’ is Finally, Reportedly Happening

Michaels’ three-year deal will be “in the Joe Buck neighborhood,” which presumably means that the legendary broadcaster will earn in the $15 million per year range.

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Al Michaels’ long-rumored move to Amazon to become the play-by-play voice of Thursday Night Football is finally, truly going to happen.

After reporting for weeks that Michaels and Amazon were “on the half-yard line” in agreeing to a deal, the two sides have now pushed the ball over the goal line. The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Michaels’ deal will be “in the Joe Buck neighborhood,” which presumably means that the legendary broadcaster will earn in the $15 million per year range. His contract is a three-year agreement.

(Buck reportedly agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with ESPN.)

Michaels was reportedly under consideration by ESPN for its Monday Night Football booth and a pairing with Troy Aikman would have been intriguing. But the opportunity to keep Aikman teamed up with Joe Buck and continue a 20-year partnership was too enticing to resist.

There was also speculation (or maybe fantasizing for sports media observers) that Michaels could replace Buck on Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. But all signs point to Fox elevating Kevin Burkhardt to the network’s top play-by-play role, likely alongside analyst Greg Olsen.

As mentioned, Michaels is signing a three-year deal and perhaps that was a concern for both ESPN and Fox if they wanted at least a five-year commitment. Michaels was clearly waiting to put pen to paper with Amazon until the ESPN and Fox situations worked themselves out. Once it became apparent that both networks were moving in other directions, however, Amazon was the last option remaining for a broadcaster of Michaels’ stature.

Besides the money and best available opportunity, Amazon was believed to have an advantage with Michaels by hiring NBC’s Sunday Night Football producer, Fred Gaudelli, to oversee its Thursday Night Football coverage. Michaels and Gaudelli have worked together for decades, going back to their days on ABC’s Monday Night Football.

Michaels will partner with Kirk Herbstreit on Thursday Night Football broadcasts. Herbstreit signed on earlier this month and will continue broadcasting both College GameDay and college football telecasts for ESPN and ABC. Prior to bringing on Herbstreit, Amazon reportedly pursued Aikman, John Lynch, and Sean McVay for the TNF analyst role.

According to Marchand, Herbstreit’s deal will pay him “eight figures a year.” Amazon is expected to officially announce Michaels and Herbstreit as its TNF broadcast team, perhaps as early as this week.

One question that may be answered with that official announcement: How many games will Michaels call each season for Amazon? Marchand reports that Michaels will still call “a game or two” for NBC, including a playoff game — which isn’t part of Amazon’s package.

But Michaels hasn’t called a full slate of broadcasts during the past two seasons. NBC had 20 NFL telecasts in 2021, including Thursday night games for the season opener and Thanksgiving. Mike Tirico filled in when Michaels took a week off. But he was also contractually entitled to call some games each season, which might be why Michaels had some bye weeks on the schedule.

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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