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Strahan’s Choice: Fox, NFL Network or East Coast Money?

June 13, 2008 9:05 AM

Michael Strahan, the future Hall of Fame New York Giant football great who retired this week, already has his work cut out for him.

Sources say the charismatic athlete is already meeting with multiple networks seeking to land the star to a talent deal for their outlets. Among the leading contenders are said to be Fox Sports as well as the NFL Network. Sources close to Mr. Strahan note that his new digs on the Southern California beach make the West Coast-based companies more attractive to the athlete. Among East Coast suitors, CBS is reportedly the most likely match, although NBC is in the mix.

Executives at both Fox Sports and the NFL Network have confirmed that they are extremely interested in Mr. Strahan and he will be approached for a position on their networks.

Relationships and money will play a bigger part than locality in his decision, which could give Fox the edge in the end.

Mr. Strahan already has a strong background with both Fox and the NFL Network. On Fox, he is a regular guest on “Best Damned Sports Show Period” as well as Fox’s NFL crew. If he was hired by the company, he would likely have large roles in both of those broadcasts and possibly others.

The NFL Network has also tapped Mr. Strahan’s services, pitting him in segments with Warren Sapp and other personalities on the channel.

“We’ve worked with Michael in so many different ways since we launched in 2003,” said Eric Weinberger, executive producer of NFL Network. “Michael contributed weekly to the NFL Network at the start and we’d love to continue our working relationship and friendship with him for years to come. We congratulate him on a great football career.”

Mr. Weinberger went on to note that “Michael’s outgoing personality, humor, honesty and insightful comments made him one of the most entertaining personalities in the league. He has the on-screen presence that keeps people watching to see what he will say next.”

Of course, money talks in the end, and a fat East Coast paycheck from NBC, ESPN or CBS would also butter the proverbial bread.

Studio sources said they hope to have a decision within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a rundown on national sports ratings for the week.
The first three games of the 2008 NBA Finals have averaged an 8.8 rating and 16 share on ABC, marking a strong 44% spike over last year's Spurs-Cavaliers Finals (6.1/11). Demographic jumps have been even stronger including a giant 63% gain among men 25-54.

Big Brown’s failure to win the Triple Crown still placed ABC’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes far higher in the ratings than in 2007, earning a 7.2/17 on Saturday. That was a 148% rise from last year’s 2.9/8. The actual running of the race earned ABC a 12.0/28 during the quarter hour. Of course, that’s still lower than what NBC pulled the last time a horse made a play for the Triple Crown, when NBC delivered a 16.1/35 in 2004.

Finally, TNT’s launch of its season of NASCAR did well for the network, earning a 3.9/9 for the Pocono 500, 30% better than last year’s 3.0/7.

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