Al Michaels may be leaving NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” but he’s not leaving NBC.
The veteran broadcaster, who revealed in March that he planned to lead Amazon’s new streamcast of “Thursday Night Football” in the fall, is keeping a foothold at NBC Sports. Michaels will have “emeritus” status, and is expected to contribute across the NBC Sports portfolio, including, the company said, to the NFL Playoffs and the Olympics.
“Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, in a statement. “We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”
Michaels has has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, and has, on occasion, found himself narrating history as well as a particular event. He’s the sportscaster who in 1980 made an iconic call when the U.S. men’s hockey team upset the USSR’s at the1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. “Do you believe in miracles?” Michaels asked. “Yes!” He also helped cover the 1989 San Francisco earthquake while offering play by play of the World Series. He became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his efforts. Michaels spent 20 years calling “Monday Night Football,” and is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television.
“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the ‘Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall,” Michaels said in a statement. One factor that may have played a role in the agreement? NBC Sports is producing Amazon’s NFL effort, even going so far as to allow veteran sports producer Fred Gaudelli, an NBC Sports mainstay, to work on the Amazon’s Thursday-night affair.
NBC, like many other networks, has placed new emphasis on sports talent as rights fees for big games continue to skyrocket. In recent months, Disney’s ESPN raided Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for its “Monday Night Football” and Fox Sports has struck an agreement with Tom Brady to call NFL games once he retires from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The arrangement sets Michaels up to play a role in NBC’s post-season NFL coverage, although the network has already paired Mike Tirico with Chris Collinsworth for the NFL’s next regular-season set of Sunday-night games.