The NFL has always made a point of requiring its Thursday Night Football broadcast partners to use their top broadcasting teams. That meant Jim Nantz calling games on CBS, first with Phil Simms and then with Tony Romo, while Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth teamed up on NBC.
But the NFL has not made that requirement of FOX, its new Thursday night broadcast partner. And FOX told PFT that the network hasn’t yet determined its Thursday night team.
“No decisions on FOX talent have been made at this time,” FOX said in a statement to PFT. “With that said, we are committed to having a consistent Thursday Night announce team that delivers on the quality of a primetime broadcast.”
A consistent Thursday night team would seem to rule out the No. 1 pairing of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Buck already has a very full plate in the fall because he calls the World Series for FOX. It seems extremely unlikely he would be calling Thursday night games while the baseball playoffs are in full swing. And if FOX wants to have a consistent Thursday night team, it couldn’t start the season with Buck, have him leave for baseball in the middle of the NFL season, and then bring him back to Thursday Night Football later in the season.
So FOX is committed to having a prime time-worthy announcing team on Thursday nights, but that team will not be its No. 1 Sunday afternoon team. That might mean bringing in a new pairing, separate from the broadcast teams FOX already uses for Sunday NFL games. Just spitballing, Gus Johnson on play-by-play and Jay Cutler on commentary is a pairing that could make sense.
Whatever happens, FOX has big plans for Thursday nights. A financial commitment reported to be at $660 million a year means FOX will want to find the right broadcasting team to make it work.