Report: FOX ‘Traded’ Joe Buck To ESPN For Penn State-Purdue Rights
FOX Sports reportedly “traded” longtime play-by-play man Joe Buck to ESPN for the television rights for Penn State football’s September 1 home opener against Purdue, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
Buck, who had been with FOX for the last 25 years, now headlines ESPN’s rebooted Monday Night Football broadcast lineup.
When Buck’s longtime broadcasting partner, Troy Aikman, departed for ESPN, it was expected they would reunite. The only obstacle was the remaining year on Buck’s contract.
According to the SBJ, FOX reportedly allowed Buck out of his contract a year early in return for an extra pick from the Big Ten’s 2022-23 football slate.
Under the current agreement, ESPN and FOX Sports alternate claiming rights to specific time and date windows for the Big Ten season. Officially, no games’ broadcast destinations are set in stone, but the intent is transparent. For example, according to the SBJ, FOX’s first pick every year is the scheduled Ohio State-Michigan weekend, meaning the network doesn’t technically have the game’s rights reserved yet, but it gets the first pick for that weekend.
Instead of the typical 27-game split for both companies, FOX will reportedly broadcast 28 games this year, while ESPN will claim 26.
As part of a deal cut between Disney’s Jimmy Pitaro and FOX Sports president Eric Shanks, ESPN relinquished its final pick: the September 1 game window, as Pittsburgh-West Virginia is also scheduled for that night – a decent consolation. FOX expects Penn State’s opener to draw millions in extra revenue.
Ourand reported that ESPN felt it had leverage in the negotiations.
“If Fox Sports had held out for a higher quality game, ESPN was prepared to offer its play-by-play slot to one of the best all-time announcers in Al Michaels [instead of Buck],” Ourand wrote.
This is not the first swap of its kind. In 2006, NBC traded back the rights of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Disney in return for early cancellation of Al Michaels’ contract to bolster the network’s Sunday Night Football lineup.
The Nittany Lions will kick off their season against the Boilermakers on the road on September 1, which will be their first Thursday game since 1991. You can catch it on FOX…perhaps thanks to Joe Buck.
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