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In a landscape-shaking deal in the sports media world, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will depart Fox Sports for new roles at ESPN in a deal estimated to be worth $30 million annually for the duo.
The play-by-play broadcaster and NFL analyst have signed a multiyear deal with the Disney-owned sports giant, where they will take over the booth for ESPN’s Monday Night Football NFL coverage beginning Sept. 12.
The move will see Buck leave his broadcast home of nearly 30 years for the new job. Buck had been Fox’s lead NFL announcer, and also led the network’s Major League Baseball coverage.
Buck will join his former Fox Sports broadcast booth colleague Aikman on MNF, with ESPN going on a spending spree to juice its highest-rated sports franchise. In addition to the Buck-Aikman booth, ESPN also has Peyton and Eli Manning lead an alternate broadcast with special guests each week.
“When you have the opportunity to bring in the iconic, longest-running NFL broadcasting duo, you take it, especially at a time when we are on the cusp of a new era in our expanding relationship with the NFL,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and sports content for Disney, in a statement. “The NFL continues to ascend, and we now have more games than ever before, providing additional opportunities for Joe, Troy and our deep roster of commentators.”
Buck and Aikman will also work on projects for the ESPN+ streaming platform.
The move by Buck and Aikman has already raised speculation that Fox may turn to Al Michaels, whose contract with NBC was up after the Super Bowl last month, to fill its booth. Amazon is also looking for talent to fill its Thursday Night Football broadcast booth, leading to a competitive market for NFL analysts.
The TV networks and Amazon signed long-term deals with the NFL last year, which is poised to deliver more than $100 billion to the league over the course of the agreements. With such expensive investments, the networks have been trying to lock in TV talent to match the investment in rights, leading to the current crop of deals for announcers.
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