The Media Trade will be an occasional column that breaks—and speculates on—news in the industry.
1) Albert Breer is leaving NFL Network for Peter King and Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, The Big Lead has learned. Breer, who joined NFL Media from the Boston Globe in 2010, is expected to join the site in May, and is also in talks for another television job in conjunction with it. He will continue to write his notes column, as well as provide video content ranging from E:60-style feature profiles to interviews to straightforward league news and analysis. (The MMQB will be making a big push further into video in general.)
This move has been rumored since the Combine. Over the past couple months, it was clear to both sides that Breer would not be returning to NFL Network. There was inherent conflict over how aggressive he was able to be in his reporting, which had essentially dated back to the lockout in the 2011 offseason.
2) Mike Tirico’s contract with ESPN is coming up relatively soon. The play-by-play announcer is expected to receive an offer from NBC. Reached for comment before The Masters, Tirico’s agent Sandy Montag told The Big Lead in an email, “I never discuss a client’s contractual status publicly,” and added that Tirico was focused on the then-upcoming golf major and NBA playoffs.
NBC’s biggest sports properties include Sunday Night Football, the Olympics, horseracing’s triple crown, and the British Open. On SNF, Al Michaels is 71 years old, but he’s still regarded by many as the NFL’s best play-by-play announcer, and has not yet shown any signs of slowing down. His contract runs for two more football seasons; the Super Bowl in early 2018 will be on NBC.
As far as the Olympics go, Bob Costas, 64, who is also represented by Montag, has hinted that this summer might be the final time he anchors the network’s Olympics coverage: “I think we’re on a case by case basis going forward,” he said last June. He also alluded to the possibility that he continued doing Olympics after these upcoming games, but in a reduced role.
Though ESPN has parted ways with a lot of high-profile – and high-price – talent amidst cost cuts during the past year it would qualify as surprising if he winds up leaving ESPN, where he calls Monday Night Football, NBA, NCAA basketball, golf, and tennis.