Andrew Marchand of the New York Post is yet again breaking broadcasting news. We already know that former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is leaving FOX after 22 years to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football team. After that news broke, there was much speculation about who Aikman’s play-by-play partner would be. NBC’s Al Michaels was a top contender, but now Marchand is reporting that Aikman’s current broadcast partner, Joe Buck, is expected to join him at ESPN.
Many were unsure if Buck would be able to go to ESPN given he still technically has one year and $11 million left on his contract with FOX. However, the network granted him permission to speak with ESPN anyway. Marchand said that FOX is letting Buck do this “as a good gesture for his years of service to the company.” Buck is reported to sign a five-year deal for anywhere between $60-75 million. Oddly, that’s significantly less than Aikman’s expected five-year, $92.5 million deal with ESPN.
ESPN has long struggled with its “Monday Night Football” crew and has committed serious capital to improve it. The five-year deals also allow Buck and Aikman to broadcast the 2027 Super Bowl, which will be shown on ESPN. The network also plans to add an additional eight games to its football schedule by 2023. The Buck deal means that Michaels will likely head to Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” coverage. Marchand reported that ESPN allegedly preferred Buck to Michaels.
This marks the end of an era for Buck at FOX, who followed in his dad’s broadcasting footsteps. The TV personality has been with the network for almost 30 years. He became the lead baseball broadcaster in 1996 and the lead football play-by-play announcer in 2002.
FOX’s Joe Buck expected to join former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast
For what it’s worth, Buck’s wife, Michelle Beisner-Buck, confirmed the news on her Instagram. Beisner-Buck is a reporter with ESPN. These two moves leave FOX in a sticky situation, especially since the network owns the television rights to the next three Super Bowls.
ESPN chairman, Jimmy Pitaro, has been working hard to bring more NFL viewers to the network. The last time a broadcasting pair worked together for more than two years on “Monday Night Football” for ESPN was back when Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden led the broadcast. Since Tirico left for NBC, the network has tried Sean McDonough, Joe Tessitore, and Steve Levy. It seems those options haven’t brought the results the network desires given ESPN is willing to spend over $50 million a year to secure the FOX personalities.
Marchand said that Kevin Burkhardt is the current favorite to take over Buck’s job. This also leaves a huge opening for former Saints coach (and often rumored future Cowboys coach) Sean Payton who is set on trying his hand at broadcasting. These moves could set him up nicely at the network.