Two of the most recognizable voices in the NFL are switching networks.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are leaving their long-time home at Fox to head to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” the network announced Wednesday.
The broadcasting duo, who have called over 300 games together, will step into the “Monday Night Football” booth on September 12.
ESPN poaching Buck and Aikman from Fox is a big deal in sports media circles. The commentator and analyst have worked together for 20 seasons as Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcasting team and they’ve called six Super Bowls. By bringing Buck and Aikman into the fold, ESPN snags arguably the most iconic duo in NFL broadcasting and adds them to one of the league’s most iconic franchises.
Losing Buck also hurts Fox’s Major League Baseball coverage since he was the leading voice for the network’s MLB games, including calling the World Series for decades.
ESPN added that along with “Monday Night Football,” Buck and Aikman will also contribute content to ESPN+, the network’s budding streaming service.
“Everything about ‘Monday Night Football,’ including the broadcast, set the standard for the modern NFL experience,” Buck said in a statement on Wednesday.
Aikman also shared his excitement about making the move to ESPN.
“The opportunity to be a voice on ‘Monday Night Football,’ adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective,” Aikman said in a statement. “As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week.”
Aikman added that he and Joe are “humbled to be part of that same tradition that has existed for more than 50 years across generations of football fans.”
By bringing over Buck and Aikman, ESPN and Disney (DIS), its parent company, are investing heavily in “Monday Night Football.” It’s a hugely popular product that got some extra buzz last season thanks to the “ManningCast,” a simulcast of the game starring the fraternal former quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, a ratings hit for the network.
The NFL continues to be the biggest ratings powerhouse on TV and this past season was no exception. The league’s viewership for the 2021 regular season was up roughly 10% overall from the year prior, bringing in an average of 17.1 million viewers per game on TV and digital. That is the highest regular season average since 2015, according to the league.
The Super Bowl also had a ratings increase over last year, notching 112.3 million viewers across TV and streaming.
ESPN and ABC, as well as the NFL’s other TV partners, signed a new deal valued at more than $100 billion last year. That media deal also gives ABC two Super Bowls, which Buck and Aikman are now likely to call.