Behind the Mic: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Melissa Stark Are New NBC Sunday Night Football Team

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, NBC names its Sunday Night Football team, CBS announces its Superstar Racing Experience lineup and more.

Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth Take the Booth for NBC’s Sunday Night Football

NBC Sports announced its new Sunday Night Football announce team, featuring Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines.

Tirico and Collinsworth have teamed to call 21 NFL games (19 regular season, two preseason) since Tirico joined NBC Sports in 2016. Stark, NBC Sports’ newest team member, served as sideline reporter for ABC’s Monday Night Football for three seasons (2000-02), and has been a host and reporter for NFL Network since 2011.

“Sunday Night Football is destination viewing and we are thrilled to have Mike, Cris and Melissa call the action and tell the stories that football fans have come to expect from primetime TV’s #1 show,” said Pete Bevacqua, NBC Sports Chairman.

The trio will work its first game together at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in primetime on Thursday, Aug. 4 on NBC and Peacock. On Thursday, Sept. 8, Tirico, Collinsworth and Stark will call the NFL Kickoff Game on NBC and Peacock.

Rolando Cantú Named Lead NFL Analyst for Telemundo Deportes

Former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Rolando Cantú joins Telemundo Deportes as new lead NFL analyst for Sunday Night Football. Cantú made his debut in Telemundo Deportes’ multiplatform coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft from Las Vegas April 28 and followed by daily recaps airing on Zona Mixta on April 29 and on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 at 11:30 p.m. ET.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rolando Cantú to the team and excited to work with him to further enhance the NFL fan experience for our audiences,” said Eli Velazquez, EVP Sports, Telemundo Enterprises. “This announcement comes on the heels of our historic broadcast of Super Bowl LVI, and we’re proud to add the best Hispanic NFL analyst in Spanish-language media to our NFL offering and continue our efforts and commitment to serving the passionate and vibrant Hispanic community.”

Cantú is a familiar face on Telemundo Deportes’ NFL coverage, but starting this season, he will serve as the lead NFL analyst for Sunday Night Football. His duties include in-game commentary as well as pre- and post-show coverage for all 23 games this season. Cantú’s first appearance in this new role will be in the network’s on-the-ground coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft in Vegas followed by preseason color analysis from training camps for Zona Mixta and Telemundo Deportes’ digital platforms leading to the season opener.

“Calling football games in Spanish and being part of the growth of the NFL within my community, the U.S. Hispanic community, is important to me, and that is why I am joining the Telemundo Deportes family fulltime,” said Cantú. “I admire the work Telemundo has done with the NFL to serve the Hispanic football fan and further the sport. I am thrilled to be part of a team that is committed to serving this market with best NFL coverage in language and with an authentic rhythm and flare.”

While Cantú will keep his front office role with the Arizona Cardinals as manager of international business for the last 15 years, he will be exclusive to Telemundo Deportes after a long career calling more than 300 Cardinals games on radio and at least 65 Thursday Night Football games, and covered 11 Super Bowls – four of which he’s called – for Spanish-language broadcasters.

Cantú is the first Mexican football player trained in the Mexican collegiate system to become an active player in the National Football League. Cantú played one year in NFL Europe with the Berlin Thunder in 2004. As a champion of the European league, the Arizona Cardinals picked him up that same year. Cantú spent 3 years with Arizona Cardinals while spending 2004 on the International Practice Developmental Squad program with the team. Cantú is the only player to remain for more than one year with an NFL team thru this program. In 2005 seeing some action late in ’05 season vs. Indianapolis Colts headed into the 2006 season with a shot of starting, after and intense training camp Cantú has put on IR due to a severe right knee injury.

CBS Announces Superstar Racing Experience Lineup

CBS Sports has unveiled its all-star announce team for the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) season. Coming off a strong inaugural season, SRX will return for six consecutive Saturday nights in primetime beginning Saturday, June 18 (8:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network and streaming live on Paramount+. The broadcast returns with last season’s core team of motorsport television veterans and welcomes new voices featuring current and former drivers to the series.

Allen Bestwick, Matt Yocum and Lindsay Czarniak will return and work all six races on the SRX schedule, bringing viewers further inside the made-for-TV racing series. Bestwick will provide play-by-play for each race with Yocum back as the pit reporter providing behind-the-scenes content with drivers and crewmembers. Czarniak will once again serve as host and provide feature content to the series. Willy T. Ribbs, who competed last season as a driver, will make the transition to analyst for all six races this year and use his experience driving in the series to break down the full SRX experience for viewers. Ribbs will serve as a roaming analyst for five races and be in the booth as a driver analyst for the July 2 race at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Conor Daly will make his SRX debut and call three races as a driver analyst – Five Flags Speedway on June 18, South Boston Speedway on June 25 and Nashville Fairgrounds on July 9. The driver analysts for the remaining races will be announced at a later date, including a surprise guest for the final and championship race to conclude this year’s schedule.

“We are thrilled to be back for season two of SRX and build off the success of our inaugural season with a stellar announce crew featuring a mix of veteran and new racing voices,” said Pam Miller, CBS Sports SRX Producer. “Our broadcast team comes with a wealth of experience and knowledge across all forms of racing, providing viewers with unique insight and analysis from every angle, while continuing to deliver fans a fun, entertaining and exciting racing experience that continues to push boundaries.”

In 2020, CBS Sports and Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), a property created by The Montag Group, NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart, and investor George Pyne announced a multi-year partnership to produce a yearly six-race, short-track series. The six-race series will feature drivers from a variety of racing backgrounds competing on short-tracks with a total emphasis on head-to-head competition in short, sprint races. SRX has secured driver commitments from some of the sport’s biggest names to return to the series, including Stewart, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Ernie Francis Jr., Michael Waltrip and Marco Andretti.

Jason Benetti Tapped as Voice for NBC’s MLB Sunday Leadoff

Play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti will serve as the voice of MLB Sunday Leadoff, Peacock’s exclusive Sunday morning Major League Baseball package, which begins on May 8 with White Sox vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park live at 11:30 a.m. ET. White Sox-Red Sox will also be simulcast on the NBC broadcast network beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Benetti will be joined in the MLB Sunday Leadoff booth each week by local analysts from the participating teams.

“I am simply ecstatic to be a part of MLB Sunday Leadoff,” said Benetti. “One of the true joys of calling games is knowing that each partner I work with provides a new perspective, energy and personality to the telecast. To get to start the baseball day on Sunday every week with analysts who are so knowledgeable about their teams and distinct as people will be an absolute pleasure.”

“Jason is one of the best baseball announcers in the business,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer. “We’re excited to expand his role within the NBC Sports family, with a new national MLB platform to complement his role as the voice of the White Sox for NBC Sports Chicago.”

Benetti has served as the voice of the Chicago White Sox for NBC Sports Chicago since 2016, and has been calling Major League Baseball games nationally on ESPN/ESPN Radio since 2011. At last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, Benetti served as NBC Sports’ lead baseball play-by-play commentator.

Benetti has served as a play-by-play announcer for a wide range of ESPN events since 2011, including MLB, college football and college basketball games, as well as ESPN’s MLB Statcast AI coverage of the MLB Wild Card and Home Run Derby. Benetti graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, economics, and psychology, and earned his J.D. from Wake Forest School of Law in 2011.

Beginning on May 8 with White Sox vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park at 11:30 a.m. ET (pregame at 11 a.m. ET), Peacock will live stream an NBC Sports-produced baseball game for 18 consecutive weeks, with start times for the first six Sunday games at 11:30 a.m. ET and the following 12 Sunday games beginning at Noon ET. Each game will feature NBC Sports-produced pregame and post-game shows on Peacock. NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed is the host of MLB Sunday Leadoff.

On each of the 18 Sundays that Peacock presents a game, it will be scheduled as the exclusive home of live MLB action until 1:30 p.m. ET that day, when the remainder of the day’s schedule will begin. Peacock will also be the exclusive home of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game – featuring top minor league prospects – which will be played during All-Star Week in July at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Ahmed Fareed Named Host of MLB Sunday Leadoff

NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed will host “MLB Sunday Leadoff,” Peacock’s exclusive Sunday morning Major League Baseball package, it was announced.

Beginning on May 8 with White Sox vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park at 11:30 a.m. ET (pregame at 11 a.m. ET), Peacock will live stream an NBC Sports-produced baseball game for 18 consecutive weeks, with start times for the first six Sunday games at 11:30 a.m. ET and the following 12 Sunday games beginning at Noon ET. Each game will feature NBC Sports-produced pregame and post-game shows on Peacock. White Sox-Red Sox will also be simulcast on the NBC broadcast network beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Fareed has an extensive baseball background, serving as a host and reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California from 2013-18, covering MLB’s San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s. He also served as an anchor and reporter for Giants Pregame Live and Giants Postgame Live. Prior to joining NBC Sports Bay Area, Fareed hosted MLB Network’s news and highlight show, Quick Pitch, for two years.

“Baseball has so much going for it. The current talent level of the players coupled with the sports’ deep tradition makes for a truly one-of-a-kind experience,” said Fareed. “I’m beyond excited for the opportunity to celebrate the sport with fans every Sunday.”

“Having served as the lead baseball commentator in the Bay Area for six years, Ahmed’s experience and extraordinary passion for the game make him the perfect candidate to host MLB Sunday Leadoff,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer.

On the weekend of May 7-8, Fareed will broadcast from two of sports’ most iconic venues: Churchill Downs and Fenway Park, as he will also work on NBC Sports’ coverage of the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock).

Since March 2019, Fareed has served as a host and reporter on a variety of properties across NBC Sports’ portfolio, including Triple Crown horse racing, Premier League and rugby. Additionally, Fareed hosted 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage on USA Network, marking his third assignment for NBC Olympics.

On each of the 18 Sundays that Peacock presents a game, it will be scheduled as the exclusive home of live MLB action until 1:30 p.m. ET that day, when the remainder of the day’s schedule will begin. Peacock will also be the exclusive home of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game – featuring top minor league prospects – which will be played during All-Star Week in July at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Peacock’s expansive programming features live sports coverage including Sunday Night Football, Olympic Games, Premier League, Notre Dame Football, NTT IndyCar Series, and much more. Peacock Originals streaming now include Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure, Meddling, Picabo, and American Rockstars. Peacock also offers daily sports programming on the NBC Sports channel which streams Peacock Original Brother from Another and staples like The Dan Patrick Show, Pro Football Talk Live, and The Rich Eisen Show.

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