It’s official: The voices you’ll hear when you turn on Fox’s new Thursday Night Football package will be precisely the same ones you hear on the network’s biggest Sunday games and postseason coverage.
According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, Fox president Eric Shanks announced Monday that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will team up for TNF, while still calling a chunk of Sunday afternoon games.
Buck and Aikman on Thursday night was not always Fox’s plan. The network pursued Peyton Manning (reportedly offering him a $10 million annual salary) and also looked into game-analyst candidates from Joe Thomas to Carson Palmer to Jason Witten to Greg Olsen. For the play-by-play position, Fox was rumored to have interest in Mike Tirico, whom they would have had to essentially rent from NBC.
But Buck and Aikman emerged as the favorites after Manning decided against a job in broadcasting, and in the end, Fox seems to have decided they made the most sense for the role. Shanks told SBJ that the duo will get a somewhat lightened load on Sundays, calling games only on weekends when Fox has a double-header. Per the New York Post, that arrangement will add about six or seven games to Buck and Aikman’s previous schedules.
And so after much fuss about who would call TNF, Fox wound up with the most obvious and least controversial option. Fans watching big games on Fox will hear the voices of Buck and Aikman, just as they have for the past 15 years. The only real difference, besides the day of the week, will be their travel itineraries (as well as their paychecks).
SBJ also reports that Thursday Night Football, which Fox paid 2.75 billion over five years to acquire, is having a profound role in shaping the network’s schedule. Fox executives told Ourand that they would use TNF to launch two new shows, Last Man Standing (formerly on ABC) and The Cool Kids, while citing the weekday primetime hours the package will eat up as a reason it canceled Brooklyn Nine-Nine, along with two other shows, last week.