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CBS locks up Ian Eagle as Jim Nantz seeks Tony Romo money

With the looming Jim Nantz negotiations hanging over this Sunday’s Super Bowl 2021 booth, CBS Sports has re-signed Ian Eagle to a long-term contract, The Post has learned.

Not only does CBS believe that Eagle is as good as any play-by-player in the business, the move gives it added leverage as Nantz seeks the same sort of contract as his Super Bowl partner, Tony Romo’s 10-season, $180 million deal.

Nantz currently earns $6.5 million per year. With a schedule that includes the Super Bowl, the Masters and the Final Four over the next three months, he wants to be paid akin to Romo. While he may want “Romo money,” he will have to create “Romo leverage.”

Like Fox did with its No. 2, Kevin Burkhardt, CBS locked up Eagle before he could hit free agency. Both Eagle and Burkhardt could easily be No. 1s.

CBS likes how Eagle finds the right pitch to his partners. He and Charles Davis had a big-game feel in their first NFL season together. Last year for TNT, Eagle immediately helped Stan Van Gundy stand out in his rookie year. The Nets’ analysts have repeatedly added national gigs while working with Eagle.

All this doesn’t seem to be a coincidence, which CBS Sports executives recognize.

Eagle will slide into pregame studio work for Super Bowl 2021 this Sunday. The exact terms of Eagle’s new deal are not known, but it is said to be longer than a standard three-year contract.

Besides the NFL, Eagle, 51, will call college hoops, while continuing as the lead TV voice on the Nets on YES and calling the NBA for TNT.

jim nantz contract negotiations are coming up at cbs.
Jim Nantz’s upcoming contract looms over at CBS.
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While Nantz has considered giving up the Final Four — he already does a limited college basketball schedule — he has not done so yet. Nantz’s best sport is golf, which is his passion and he is among the greatest to ever call the sport.

Nantz, 61, has said he wants to be on the Masters until he is 75. Since 1956, CBS has retained the rights to the event on recurring one-year contracts.

Romo had leverage over CBS in a variety of ways. Most importantly, Romo had at least a 10-year, $140 million offer waiting for him from ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” according to sources.

With the Super Bowl on its air this year and with NFL TV negotiations on deck, CBS refused to let Romo go, even when it meant paying Romo around $10 million more per year than Fox’s lead NFL game analyst Troy Aikman.

With Fox having Joe Buck and NBC having Al Michaels/Mike Tirico, the one place Nantz could is Disney/ABC/ESPN. With a Super Bowl likely on the horizon in its next NFL TV deal, Disney could look to Nantz. It has the first two rounds of the Masters, but could Nantz eventually take the final two rounds with him?

Even with Nantz’s power in the golf world and his relationships with top officials at the Masters, it is a heavy lift.

ESPN has been cutting salaries and plans on keeping Steve Levy as its “MNF” play-by-player.

CBS executives realize that they own the events Nantz wants to broadcast, specifically the network’s vast golf offerings. This might be their greatest leverage.

Still, there has been a money wedge between CBS and Nantz. Nantz has made it clear he wants to be paid as much as Romo, feeling as if he works much more and has been the face of the network for decades.

On its face, it is not a bad case, but CBS has lined its defense better than it did with Romo. The feeling is Nantz will eventually return, but CBS has taken care of some important business with the signing of Eagle.


Sports Media and Wagering

The convergence of sports media and wagering will continue to be one of the biggest stories in sports media.

On TV, no matter what game you are watching these days, you are inundated with wagering promotions, making evident where everything is headed, beginning with the free-to-play nationwide platforms.

For example, Fox Bet’s Super 6 app — which was highlighted every Sunday with the “Win Terry Bradshaw’s money” tie-ins — resulted in nearly 2 million more downloads this season to give the app more than 4 million in total.

This is a free-to-play app — meaning sports gambling doesn’t need to be legal in a given state to participate — but this betting space will only grow with more legalization. Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo jumped on board with sports gambling in New York. What was the future is quickly becoming the present.

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