No network has been able to solve the Thursday Night Football riddle. Fox’s idea is to bring in Peyton Manning to call the game, and build a pregame show around Troy Aikman, its current No. 1 analyst, according to a report from the New York Post.
In an effort to help make “Thursday Night Football” a primetime event, Fox is hoping to use Hall of Famer Troy Aikman as part of its pregame show that will either emanate from the site of each game or from the network’s Los Angeles studios, The Post has learned.
Fox’s goal is to give Thursday night a big-game feel that can stick out among the saturation of NFL games on primetime three nights a week and all day on Sunday, according to officials who have been briefed on the network’s plans. Aikman would still team with Joe Buck on Sunday’s lead game on Fox.
Fox recently gained the rights to 11 Thursday games per season for the next give years. Offering Manning a chance to work a truncated schedule like that, in addition to either booth or studio work in the playoffs is a smart move. It’s an attractive package. For Aikman, though, this new arrangement could turn into more of a punishment than a reward.
If the network really explores broadcasting a College GameDay type show on location each week with Aikman on the set, it will significantly increase his travel for little upside. Count me as a big skeptic that Americans will tune in with passion for a weeknight pregame show — even if it boasts name-brand talent.
Asking an analyst to pull Thursday-Sunday double duty in the booth for 3/4th of the season is a big ask. Asking an analyst to pull double duty in the interest of building an on-site studio seems a little silly, especially when the person in question in Aikman.
Now, having a Los Angeles-based program is both far more reasonable and cost-effective. But even then, does the addition of Aikman change the challenges such a show would face? If it does, is that difference worth the strain it will put on network’s top commentator? Isn’t he bound to look around and realize that he, despite the seniority, is getting a worse deal than Manning?
Risky move, especially when one considers that Aikman has shown that he is passionate and all-in on broadcasting while Manning’s long-term pursuits are far more likely to include front-office management.
But hey, what do I know?