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Tom Brady’s historic $375m Fox Sports deal shows familiarity breeds content | Tom Brady

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Fear not, Tom Brady will remain the face of Sunday for the foreseeable future.

Fox announced on Tuesday that Brady is set to join the network as a senior NFL analyst whenever he decides to retire — which could be in 2023…or 2063. The New York Post reported that Brady is set to receive $375 million. 10 years.

The deal will make Brady the highest-paid sportscaster by far. That’s twice the record amount CBS paid Tony Romo in 2020, and nearly three times more than the Disney Company is paying Stephen A Smith to operate as a one-man network at ESPN. In fact, it’s a contract that would make Brady the eighth highest paid. player in the NFL. He’s basically leaving $15 million on the table this year so he can continue playing football for the Bucs.

The numbers are shocking. You gotta hand it to him, Brady seems determined to get back every penny he left on the football table when he signed friendly deal after friendly deal in New England.

It’s a decision that represents the direction that sports broadcasting is taking. Just five years ago, the game’s most decorated star walked off the field to take a play-calling job from the stand would have been under Brady’s station. Now being a senior NFL analyst, working 20 days on the air a year, earning a salary that matches or surpasses the best players in the game, is a cushy, comfortable, lucrative, part-time gig. In the age of streaming, live sports are king. And retaining those live sports rights is everything.

The timing of the announcement was telling. It was not released with a glossy media package or via a social media push. It was announced by Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch during an investor call. Make no mistake, this was a decision for investors, not viewers. For those who invest in the publicly traded shares of Fox and those who invest in the purchase of advertising time on Fox Sports.

Advertisers do not change game metrics. No one connects or disconnects (in large enough numbers to make a difference) on any given match because of who or how a game is called. The game is the attraction, the advertisers simply help to lift or deflate the atmosphere. Speaking on the South Beach Session podcast, John Skipper, the former head of ESPN, said the company’s internal data showed who was calling the game, which made little difference to viewership figures. “I’ve never seen a flicker of evidence that the people in the cabin changed the notes even a tiny bit,” Skipper said. “The job race is mostly about internal pride.”

Hiring famous faces to chat about games is all about prestige and ego. The hope for Fox is that Tom Brady being Tom Brady will sprinkle some stardust on the network, bringing in a few extra million dollars here and there in ad revenue from executives who just want to get in the room with Tom Bleeping Brady, little it doesn’t matter what the viewership numbers say.

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More importantly, it helps maintain a company’s standing with the league. Amazon having fully entered the world of NFL rights, the rest of the legacy outfits are vying for position to ensure they are not left out of any future NFL rights deal as more games and more… broadcasts are handed over to the Bezos-backed upstart. And that’s why salaries have skyrocketed since Romo signed his $17 million-a-year extension with CBS, kicking off this summer’s arms race: Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit to join Amazon; Buck and Aikman move to ESPN; Fox lands Brady.

Hiring famous people doesn’t necessarily help or improve outreach – often it does the opposite. But hiring famous people helps the broadcast network maintain its set of rights. For what constitutes pennies on Fox Corp’s overall balance sheet, Brady will help future-proof the company against streaming companies that eat away at their bundle of rights, the loss of which would cost billions.

With neither legacy partner wanting to stay with the bag, the networks doubled down on big names and quarterbacks in the pit. What position did they play? Who did they play for? There’s a reason former Dallas Cowboys – Romo; Jason Witten – are offered the opportunity to skip the line. It’s about name recognition rather than talent or experience.

If you were, say, Amazon Sports, with an unlimited budget, looking to create the most compelling broadcast, wouldn’t you try something different, something creative? Wouldn’t Gusgasm, in all its viral glory, be at the top of your wish list? How about Aqib Talib, the most interesting voice currently on NFL broadcasts? Didn’t he win one of the best chairs in a network? And where is the Hall of Fame tackle pipeline, which can analyze, in real time, what’s happening on the line of scrimmage, the area of ​​the pitch that most often decides games?

Instead, Amazon went with the proven formula. He opted to take no chances, either breaking the traditional in-game stand building or building around new names. He chose Al Michaels, still the best play-by-play announcer in the game, even though he is approaching 80. first vote due to his Q score.

If nothing else, Brady’s elevation straight to the top of a mostly outdated, mostly white show confirms that the networks continue to view the old way as The Way. There will be little or no innovation. It will be two guys – sometimes three – in a booth: The overeager announcer; the ex-player of thanks for the check. Even as companies and sports scramble to try and replicate the ManningCast’s success, it will always serve as a second or third option. It’s a cool side project, something to show the cool kids on social media that you’re trying to be different. The real show, the ad-supported show, the investor-backed show, the show for an audience of 32 NFL owners, will always feature a Hall of Famer, probably the one who played with a star on the side of his helmet, or who has enough rings to cover two hands.

What kind of announcer will Brady be? Early Romo set the standard for modern game analysts with his infectious enthusiasm and gift for predicting games. He knew the league’s players and schemes intimately after leaving the field and relished sharing his knowledge with the public. Brady will enter the booth with a similar command, if he has the charm through the mic is up for debate.

After 23 years in the league, he seems comfortable in his own skin. Outside of the Patriots cult of non-personality, Brady has shown his teeth a bit and made his persona more public. He has as much experience in front of the camera as any player attempting the move. He just finished a 10-part infomercial for ESPN. The most interesting analysis of the NFL Films 100 Years series came with Brady breaking down parts alongside Bill Belichick. Watching and dissecting games in real time is a different matter, however, requiring a different skill set. But it’s Tom Brady, walking football machine. The job is to talk and analyze football, and he’s pretty good at it.

Brady has no contemporary in the media space, with the possible exception of Peyton Manning. He is the most famous celebrity the game produced, one of the few that crosses continents and sports. He is also the most important and impactful player of the last 20 years. People will want to hear what he has to say. Jumping from field to pit should mean he can offer Romo-esque ideas from the jump. And by handing him the biggest contract in sports media history, Fox locked in his own future in the NFL.

Some Hall of Famers are retreating into the coaching or executive life grind. A few copper shill strips or the Itch Stopper. Brady will continue to sell football and Sundays – and will be paid like Russell Wilson to do so.

As always, the NFL’s ultimate winner keeps winning.

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