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In the New York Post today, Andrew Marchand projects a spicy standoff between CBS and the face of their sports broadcasting division, Jim Nantz. Nantz reportedly makes $6.5 million per year, but his deal is up next year and he now wants to be compensated at the level of his NFL partner Tony Romo, who makes over $17 million annually. According to the report, Joe Buck and Mike Tirico make approximately $10 million per year from FOX and NBC.
In addition to being their top NFL play-caller, Nantz calls The Masters and Final Four for CBS. If CBS and Nantz can’t reach an agreement, however, CBS has Ian Eagle potentially waiting in the wings. Eagle’s deal is also up next year. If either one can’t reach an agreement with CBS, it is plausible that ESPN/ABC, which are in the market for incremental NFL programming, could make a bid for them.
Nantz is 61 years old, and he’s not going to get a better suite of events if he were to leave CBS. He does have considerable value as a steady hand, especially since ESPN is now on their third play-by-play person for Monday Night Football since Mike Tirico left. They moved on from Sean McDonough and then Joe Tessitore, and now Steve Levy is on the call.
The other juicy part of the story is that Nantz is reportedly protective of his rapport with Tony Romo, and he did not want anybody else working with him this past weekend while Nantz was calling The Masters. CBS issued a statement saying that producers from the NFL team were also working on The Masters and that it therefore made sense for continuity purposes to keep the top whole crew off the NFL game.
These will surely be tense negotiations, and it’ll be pretty fascinating to see what happens.