The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will call Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’

Al Michaels will team with Kirk Herbstreit to call "Thursday Night Football" on Amazon starting this season. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will call Amazon’s Thursday night NFL games starting this season, the company announced Wednesday.

Amazon will begin broadcasting “Thursday Night Football” exclusively this year, paying around $1 billion for the rights to the first NFL TV package that will be available exclusively via streaming. In Michaels and Herbstreit, Amazon has star broadcasters it hopes will lend an air of polish and familiarity to its production.

Michaels, 77, just called his 11th Super Bowl in February while working for NBC. He famously called the 1980 Team USA hockey upset of the Soviet Union and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman cash in at ESPN as the NFL broadcaster arms race continues

Herbstreit is best known as the lead college football game analyst on ESPN, but he has called several NFL games for the network. ESPN also announced Wednesday a multiyear contract extension for Herbstreit to continue as the lead analyst for its Saturday night college football telecasts. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” executive producer, Fred Gaudelli, also will join Amazon in the same role for Thursday night games. (Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)

Michaels and Herbstreit are the latest announcers to cash in amid frenzied recruitment by networks of the NFL’s most well-known game callers. Earlier this month, ESPN announced that it had poached Joe Buck and Troy Aikman from Fox to jazz up its “Monday Night Football” booth.

Aikman had conversations with Amazon before signing with ESPN. He is expected to be the highest-paid announcer ever, pulling in around $18 million per year. Buck could receive as much as $15 million per year. According to the New York Post, Michaels’s and Herbstreit’s salaries will eclipse $10 million.

As for the NFL’s other broadcast partners, Mike Tirico will replace Michaels and call NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” alongside Cris Collinsworth. Fox has yet to announce replacements for Buck and Aikman. Internal candidates Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen, a former star tight end, are under consideration to be the network’s top NFL team. Fox will broadcast two of the next three Super Bowls.