Will the NFL Broadcast Booth Have a Market Correction?

Kyle Koster
Drew Brees could be the last of the splashy hires.
Drew Brees could be the last of the splashy hires. / Cindy Ord/Getty Images
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The market for NFL broadcasters has exploded in recent years as networks discover -- as Fall Out Boy foretold -- that football ain't a scene, it's a goddamn arms race. Current players could be forgiven for looking at their second act and salivating at both the money and upgrade in personal well-being. Or at least that was the case before a global pandemic caused everything to grind to a halt.

Now, uncertainty reigns. No one can predict the future, even the allegedly clairvoyant Tony Romo, whose $17 million annual contract may end up serving as a warning flag. Though we're all hoping for the best and the NFL is hell-bent on charging full steam ahead, there's a non-zero chance that there won't be a season in the fall.

We're nowhere near the level of testing needed to reopen society. Medical experts concede there will be a second round during the fall even if we get this current one under control. And so on.

No games obviously means no broadcasts and no return on announcer investment. What's done with Romo is done, but I can't help but wonder if that fear will shape Fox's decision when it comes to replacing Charles Davis in the No. 2 booth. Andrew Marchand of the NY Post alluded to the possibility the network takes a gap year to wait for Greg Olsen. Not that an outside splashy hire was especially likely here anyway, but the viability of such a route seems, to a simpleton like me, not the best course of action.

For this case and the cases to come.

Throw a dart and you hit a company trying to shed overhead. That's materialized in the form of layoffs, furloughs, and paycuts. Even the successful silos of the media have been impacted. Both on the books and in the optical realm, it's worth wondering if paying big, bloated bucks for a play-by-play voice or color commentator will emerge on the other side of this hell as relic of the past.

Admittedly, I've never really understood it even in the best of times. In the worst times, it's harder to justify.

But there is another side to the equation, on which reasonable minds can disagree. Let's say, hypothetically, that a network has $50 million annually to invest in five regular booths. Does it make sense to throw most of the budget at the front end of that depth chart or try to win 1-5? At what point to do viewers care about the quality of announcers -- therefore dictating their value?

It's a question I don't know the answer to. What does seem logical, though, is the idea that the NFL broadcast booth is due for a market correction and Drew Brees, who reportedly signed a big contract with NBC for his post-playing career, could emerge as the last guy through the door before things changed.

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