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Kirk Herbstreit Extends ESPN Contract, Joins Amazon ‘Thursday Night Football’

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be monumental. For four months, I’m not really going to have any days off.”

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Kirk Herbstreit was officially introduced Wednesday as part of Amazon’s new Thursday Night Football broadcast team, providing color commentary alongside play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. But he’ll also be continuing the work at ESPN that made him one of the best-known football broadcasters in sports media.

Herbstreit has agreed to a contract extension with ESPN, which was also announced Wednesday. According to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, it’s a three-year extension added to the two years remaining on Herbstreit’s current deal.

Herbstreit will remain the top commentator on ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday morning pregame show and the No. 1 analyst with play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler on the ABC Saturday Night Football college football telecast. He will continue calling one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games and the National Championship game. Additionally, Herbstreit will maintain a role in ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage.

The extension continues Herbstreit’s 26-year relationship with ESPN, which began when he joined College GameDay in 1996.

“Kirk’s passion for college football and reverence for its traditions is unmatched,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro in the network’s official announcement. “His signature analysis and in-depth insight have earned him the respect of both fans and the teams he covers, and we are thrilled to ensure that Kirk will continue to be there for college football’s biggest moments for years to come.”

As mentioned, Amazon also officially introduced Herbstreit and Michaels as its new Thursday Night Football broadcast team. According to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, the new duo will call one preseason game for Amazon before making its regular-season debut on Sept. 15. Amazon will have 15 TNF broadcasts for the season and will later announce alternate feeds for those games.

With the Thursday Amazon broadcast followed by GameDay and a college football telecast on Saturday, Herbstreit is going to be a very busy man during the fall.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be monumental,” Herbstreit told the New York Post. “For four months, I’m not really going to have any days off.”

But he’s also going to be very well compensated. According to Marchand, Amazon will pay Herbstreit $10 million per season. While the financials of his ESPN deal weren’t announced, Marchand reports that his total package puts him near the $18 million Aikman will earn with ESPN annually.

Calling Thursday Night Football with Michaels will take some of the sting out of the disappointment Herbstreit says he felt when ESPN hired Aikman for Monday Night Football. He hoped that the network might eventually move him and Fowler to the MNF booth and a Super Bowl broadcast in 2027.

But Aikman going to ESPN obviously opened up the opportunity for Herbstreit to call NFL games for Amazon. While he won’t call a postseason game or Super Bowl there, it’s a showcase position for Herbstreit which will get plenty of attention from fans and media as he works with one of broadcasting’s greatest play-by-play voices.

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Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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