The problem Fox had when Peyton Manning reportedly declined their invitation to have him join the “Thursday Night Football” booth was that there was no realistic backup plan that could compare to Manning.
Instead of looking for a different splashy hire from the outside, it seems Fox is ready to turn “TNF” over to its normal No. 1 NFL announcing team.
If you like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, prepare to get even more of them. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, who has broken many stories related to the NFL broadcasting shuffle this offseason, said Fox wants to put Buck and Aikman on its Thursday night games. Fox paid $3.3 billion for the Thursday night franchise, and it needs a broadcasting team that reflects that investment.
The NFL likely wouldn’t mind if Buck and Aikman end up on “TNF.” In recent years the NFL wanted the networks that had Thursday night games to use their top teams and production crews because the league wanted those games to feel like big events. Having Buck and Aikman on Thursday night would give it that feel.
Of course, it’s not as easy as just telling Buck and Aikman to do Thursday night games. Marchand wrote that negotiations are underway, because the two broadcasters would likely require more money to add games to their normal Sunday duties. It’s also possible, the Post reported, that Buck and Aikman could do fewer Sunday games if they broadcast Thursday games. Buck has other obligations at the network, including postseason baseball. Marchand wrote Buck and Aikman have a strong negotiating position since the network wants to have its Thursday night team in place before advertising upfronts in late May.
While there have been complaints about “Thursday Night Football” through the years, there were some great games last season. Ratings for Thursday games have always been strong. Fox knew what it was doing when it invested billions in those games. It just needed to figure out the best broadcast team for Thursday nights, and it seems like their choice will be a familiar tandem.
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