Amazon Reportedly Set to Hire Star College Football Analyst Kirk Herbstreit for 'Thursday Night Football'

Kirk Herbstreit at ESPN College Game Day during a game between Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Image credit: Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Amazon is set to hire respected ESPN college football commentator Kirk Herbstreit as the lead on-air analyst for Thursday Night Football, the live NFL game package it will assume full control over this coming fall. 

The selection of Herbstreit was reported as a distinct possibility for Amazon last week by the New York Post's Andrew Marchand, after Amazon's first choice, Fox star NFL analyst Troy Aikman, chose to instead jump to Disney-ESPN and its venerable Monday Night Football franchise.

On Monday, NBC's Peter King reported that Amazon will indeed "settle" on Herbstreit, who is probably the most respected on-air voice in college football -- a position that doesn't buy as much locker room cred as you might expect amid the staggering popularity of the NFL game. 

Amazon signed an 11-year deal with the NFL a year ago to become the first exclusive TV-video home of Thursday Night Football. The deal reportedly calls for Amazon to shell out $1 billion a year to the league. 

Herbstreit makes $6 million a year as the lead analyst for ESPN's marquee college football matchup each Saturday during the season. His ESPN duties also require him to appear on Saturday morning panel show College Football GameDay.

The analyst reportedly has a clause in his contract that would allow for him to call NFL games for another company.

Herbstreit is often compared to college football announcing legend Keith Jackson for his depth of knowledge and insights about the college game.

Is his game NFL ready? Questionable.

Notably, Herbstreit, like Aikman, was a star college quarterback, lettering at Ohio State all four of his seasons (1989-1993). Unlike Aikman, who won three Super Bowls as the quarterback of glamor team the Dallas Cowboys, Herbstreit never had an NFL career.

Certainly, the pond Herbstreit is jumping in is much bigger. In November, Fox scored the biggest college football audience in two years, attracting 15 million viewers to watch Michigan finally end a losing streak against hated rival Ohio State.

The average NFL TV audience across all networks in 2021 was 17.1 million viewers. ■ 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!