Costas recently joined The Michael Kay Show, co-hosted by Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, and claimed paying elite announcers does impact a broadcast.
ESPN just shelled out $165 million to bolster their Monday Night Football booth with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Last week, Gumbel argued against the spending because announcers don’t attract viewers to a broadcast, but according to Costas, the financial expenditure isn’t really about attracting an audience.
“I think the primary reason why you hire an Al Michaels or why you get Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to move over…is for prestige,” Costas said on The Michael Kay Show. “You want your main broadcast to be as well-produced, as well-directed, and as well-broadcast as possible. You like the reviews to be good, you like your friends to tip their caps to you when you’re an executive and you walk into a room. You want that aura.”
Networks spending tens of millions of dollars on broadcasters is becoming a trend in the NFL, but Costas doesn’t expect other sports to follow suit.
“Football not only reigns over all sports as a business property. It reigns over all American entertainment,” Costas said. “If you’re going to invest billions of dollars just for the rights and on top of it all of the production costs, spending $15 million a year on a top-level announcer is no different than [saying] ‘I’m buying this $3,000 suit, but I’m not going to splurge on the shoes and the belt.’”
And while Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are essentially a $165 million pair of shoes and belt in the above scenario, they’re helped by having leverage thanks to competing networks. The NFL is on CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN/ABC, and now Amazon, with each entity competing against each other in terms of presentation and production quality. Broadcasters in other sports don’t have that same competition to use as leverage.
“Mike Breen is the top NBA guy nationally…he has no comparable leverage to that,” Costas said. “There’s no five entities investing that kind of money and looking through a relatively small talent pool to find top guys…Football is completely unique when we talk about this game of musical chairs and the amount of money involved.”