Report: Amazon Wants NBC’s Al Michaels as “Thursday Night Football” Play-by-Play Voice
Amazon's exclusive "TNF" package will begin streaming in 2022 instead of 2023
When old-school football fans are forced to watchThursday Night Football online starting next year once the broadcast exclusively shifts to Amazon Prime for the 2022 season, the streaming giant is hoping to have a familiar voice to welcome them to the platform.
According to the New York Post, Amazon is hoping to work out a deal to have NBC’s Al Michaels serve as the play-by-play voice for its TNF broadcasts. NBC, which retained its Sunday Night Football rights in the recent TV mega-deal with the NFL, could also loan some of its top production people to Amazon along with Michaels for TNF.
Set to call Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in February, 76-year-old Michaels is in the final season of his contract with NBC and could use the interest in his service as a big chip at the bargaining table during negotiations about a new deal.
Still the voice of SNF after assuming the role in 2006, Michaels could join Amazon in 2022 and remain at NBC in a lesser role than the lead voice on the weekly show, the perennial highest-rated broadcast on primetime network TV. In that scenario, Mike Tirico would take over as the No. 1 play-by-play voice for NBC and handle the SNF heavy lifting.
“For Michaels, there’s one important question, which he surely will ask (and probably already has): How many people will actually see the Thursday night games on Amazon?” writes ProFootballTalk. “The games that aren’t simulcast by NFL Network will be available on broadcast TV only in the markets of the involved teams. There surely will be a difference, at least initially, when it comes to the ratings.”
In addition to Michaels, Amazon also has interest in Fox’s Joe Buck and Ian Eagle of CBS. Both of those candidates are 52 and would give Amazon, which has an 11-year agreement with the NFL, a chance to lock up a familiar voice for TNF in the long term.
“Buck and Eagle are both 52 years old and under contract with their networks,” per the Post. “Buck’s deal is up in 2023. Eagle, who works for CBS, TNT and YES, just signed a new deal with CBS and is a top candidate to replace Marv Albert as Turner’s lead NBA play-by-player.”
ESPN previously tried to work out a trade for Michaels, who was released from his deal with ABC in 2006, in exchange for NBC giving Disney back the rights to cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, before the pandemic began last year. NBC rejected the offer.
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