The worst-kept secret in sports broadcasting is no longer a secret at all.
ESPN announced Wednesday that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have signed multiyear contracts with the network as the new voices of “Monday Night Football.”
They come over from Fox Sports, where they were the No. 1 NFL broadcast pairing for 20 years, calling six Super Bowls together, including four involving the Patriots, most recently their Super BowL LI comeback against the Falcons.
Both Buck and Aikman signed five-year contracts. An industry source previously confirmed that Aikman’s salary would be in the range of $18 million per year. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported that Buck will make $15 million per year.
An ESPN spokesperson said both Buck and Aikman will contribute content to ESPN+. It’s uncertain at this point whether Buck will be involved with ESPN’s baseball broadcasts. He has called the World Series for Fox every year since 1996.
Aikman’s contract with Fox Sports expired after the Super Bowl, and the Hall of Fame former Cowboys quarterback was coveted in free agency. It was initially expected that he would join Amazon’s Thursday night NFL broadcasts, which begin next season, presumably with Al Michaels, who is expected to be named the play-by-play voice soon.
But ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro pursued Aikman hard for “Monday Night Football,” and word that they had agreed upon a deal was confirmed in late February. Buck had a year remaining on his deal with Fox Sports, but in recent weeks it became apparent that he was going to be permitted to join Aikman at ESPN.
Buck’s departure leaves a play-by-play void for Fox Sports in its top NFL and MLB booths. Kevin Burkhardt is believed to be the frontrunner for the top NFL gig, with Greg Olsen as the analyst. Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis is the expected choice to become the Fox Sports’s top MLB play-by-play voice, joining analyst John Smoltz.
ESPN is expected to retain Steve Levy and Louis Riddick, who have been part of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth the past two seasons, as the voices of its other NFL broadcasts. In the new NFL media rights deal that commences next season, ABC will receive three stand-alone “Monday Night Football” games as well as a simulcast with ESPN on a late-season Saturday doubleheader.
Brian Griese, who joined Levy and Riddick in the booth the past two seasons, recently left to become the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
ESPN also announced that Lisa Salters will return next season, her 11th as the “Monday Night Football” sideline reporter.