Joe Buck is making his ESPN debut next week at the PGA Championship, where he’ll host his own version of the Manningcast.
Working alongside longtime ESPN golf personality Michael Collins, Buck will make a return to golf broadcasting in a very different, and presumably much looser format. Given that unlike other attempts to copy the Monday Night Football alternate feed this one will actually be produced by Omaha Productions, it’s maybe the first real test of how well the Manningcast formula can translate to other events.
Given Buck’s involvement and the production team, the PGA broadcast was always likely to bring in some big names as guests, and today ESPN released a list that delivered just that.
PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins will air during all four days of competition in the May 19-22 tournament and feature an array of guests to offer running commentary and conversation as live play in golf’s second major of the season unfolds at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
Peyton and Eli Manning will be among the guests on the telecast during the tournament. Other guests who will appear across the four days of coverage will include Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm and ESPN’s Doris Burke with more guests to be announced later.
(Full disclosure, as a golf enthusiast: I didn’t know how much I wanted Doris Burke on a golf broadcast until just this moment.)
This also means that technically Aikman will make his ESPN debut as an ESPN employee. The schedule, meanwhile, will see the alternate feed running four hours per day for all four days of the tournament on ESPN and ESPN2.
The telecast will air for four hours each day. During the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday, May 19-20, the telecast will air on ESPN from 1-2 p.m. ET during the final hour of live tournament coverage on ESPN+ and then move to ESPN2 from 2-5 p.m. while tournament play is airing on ESPN.
During the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22, the telecast will air on ESPN from 9-10 a.m. while live play is airing on ESPN+ and then it will switch to ESPN+ from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. while live play is airing on ESPN.
ESPN has exclusive PGA Championship coverage for Thursday and Friday, and then early coverage on the weekend. It’s hard to predict how the ratings will look, but for something like this it’s tempting to say they just don’t really matter that much. (Granted that’s my personal stance on most ratings discourse, so I might be biased.) Offering this sort of extra option does nothing except enhance the overall presentation of the event.
It also utilizes Buck, allows for Michael Collins to have a big platform after years of being occasionally buried amidst ESPN’s fluctuating golf coverage strategy, and carves a pathway to getting non-golf personalities and celebrities on the air without trampling on and distracting from the main coverage.
These are all good things! And even if it somehow ends up a fiasco, which is unlikely, it would still almost certainly be an entertaining one.