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Amazon plans on signing Kirk Herbstreit as an analyst for Thursday Night Football.
“I heard last night that Amazon—spurned by Troy Aikman, Sean McVay and John Lynch—has settled on ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit to be the analyst on its Thursday night package of NFL games starting this fall,” NBC’s Peter King reports.
Herbstreit gives Amazon the big-name splash it needs heading into its first season carrying TNF exclusively.
While known for calling college football on Saturday nights at ESPN — which he will continue to do in addition to his work with Amazon — Herbstreit has impressed media executives during ESPN’s second NFL package broadcasts for the past two seasons. Herbstreit was clearly a better option than Louis Riddick and Brian Griese, who have been ESPN’s main NFL color commentators since 2020.
Herbstreit is quick on his feet and one of the better Xs and Os analysts. And depending on your preference, he’s less distracting on a call than, say, Tony Romo. Herbstreit doesn’t over-explain the game. That’s an underrated skill.
So Amazon is getting a top-level game analyst, and now the platform hopes that Herbstreit’s addition will convince Al Michaels to finally sign the contract Amazon has put on the table for him.
Michaels, who signed off of NBC at the conclusion of the Super Bowl, has been Amazon’s top priority since securing the rights to TNF. Sources tell OutKick, however, that Michaels does not want to work with an unestablished color commentator. Therefore, he’s waiting to see how the musical chairs play out before giving Amazon a final answer.
On one hand, working with Herbstreit could intrigue Michaels. On the other, Troy Aikman, Michaels’ preferred choice, is headed to ESPN to call Monday Night Football.
If Michaels chooses ESPN over Amazon, Chris Fowler is a name worth monitoring. Since ESPN is allowing Herbstreit to sign a separate deal with Amazon, it’s hard to see why it wouldn’t okay a similar arrangement for Fowler, Herbstreit’s CFB partner.
Amazon’s surge into the live sports space is in the early stages. Sources say that Amazon has an interest in several upcoming free agents in sports media, including Kay Adams and Dan Orlovsky. Amazon has also had discussions with Tony Gonzalez for a studio role on Thursday Night Football. And that’s just on the football side.
Kirk Herbstreit and Thursday Night Football were just the first dominos to fall. Strong start for Amazon’s sports division.