“It’s a f*cking mystery to me,” one NFL producer says of Troy Aikman getting paid $18 million a year by ESPN after Tony Romo got a raise from $3 million a year to $17 million a year to stay at CBS. As The Ringer's Brian Curtis notes, NBC's Cris Collinsworth, Aikman and Romo "will make nearly $50 million combined—at least $30 million more than they made five years ago." ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, who is expected to tack on Amazon's Thursday Night Football to his ESPN college football duties, is also expected to get a big payday. Al Michaels, too, if he decides to join Thursday Night Football. "It’s ESPN that has done more than any network to raise the maximum salary," says Curtis. "Since 2018, ESPN has tried four different analysts on Monday Night Football. It failed to find one it liked. So ESPN’s bid helped Romo get a record salary. Then, by signing Aikman, ESPN beat the record its own failure had helped to create. ESPN signed Aikman for the same reason the Broncos traded for Russell Wilson. If the announcer empowerment era is the product of a desperate network, it’s also the product of more networks—or more media companies. Until this year, an NFL TV announcer could work at Fox, CBS, NBC, or ESPN. Then Amazon paid $1 billion per year for the rights to Thursday Night Football. As Aikman, Michaels, and Herbstreit have shown, the introduction of just one more potential bidder gave them enormous leverage."
TOPICS: Troy Aikman, Amazon Prime Video, CBS, ESPN, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Kirk Herbstreit, Tony Romo, NFL, TV Salaries