Timing is everything in life.
No better example of that old axiom than the good fortune bestowed upon Tony Romo.
Romo recently re-signed with CBS as their lead NFL analyst to the tune of $17 million per year for significantly more than 5 years. The numbers escalated because ESPN was ready to make a similar offer to Romo in hopes of invigorating their Monday Night Football package.
On the surface, it looks like a massive overpay. But upon further review, it’s a bargain for the network of Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, John Madden, and Lassie.
In three short years, Romo has skyrocketed to become the most well-known analyst in all of televised sports. His knowledge and enthusiasm are undeniable.
While the former Cowboys Quarterback will earn $850,000 per game, his value to the CBS Sports brand is incalculable.
CBS currently pays slightly more than $1 billion per year in rights fees to carry AFC games. Those fees are expected to double when NFL and TV network executives negotiate a new deal following the 2022 season. At that point, Romo’s salary will represent less than 1% of the yearly rights fees that CBS will pay the NFL.
Do fans watch games on TV because of announcing teams? Difficult to say. In the 1970s and early ’80s ABC’s Monday Night Football games were must-see TV, due in large part to Howard Cosell, who was simultaneously the most loved and hated sportscaster in America. That is a classic example of polarization.
Romo is extremely well-liked by fans and players. His unbridled enthusiasm and love of football shine through.
Part of the value in this gargantuan contract is that it is early March and we are talking about an analyst signing a new contract with a value of greater than $100 million. Every local and national radio sports talk show will spend countless segments discussing the merits of Romo’s new deal. Media critics will spin their takes on it as well. That amount of media coverage is invaluable for CBS Sports, creating millions of dollars in free advertising six months before the 2020 season kicks off.
People who are fair-weather fans now know that Romo is the highest-paid sportscaster in history and may tune in to pique their curiosity.
Another benefit for CBS is more direct. Part of the responsibility of the broadcast team is to schmooze current and potential advertisers. Romo and his broadcast partner Jim Nantz are superb golfers. We know that many a business deal is consummated on the golf course or at the 19th hole. I’m sure Romo’s likability is appreciated by companies that will fork over millions of dollars to get their message broadcast on CBS.
Romo has been good and fortunate in his two careers. In 10 years as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Romo was 2-4 in six playoff games. Despite that pedestrian post-season record, Romo earned $127 million on the field and scores of millions in endorsements off the field. Add that to his new deal with CBS and Romo is a very wealthy man.
The greatest Cowboy Quarterback ever, Roger Staubach, earned $160,000 in his final season in 1979. The franchise’s 2nd best signal-caller was Troy Aikman, and he made $55 million in 12 seasons. Staubach won two Super Bowls. Aikman three.
Staubach parlayed his on-field success and business acumen to build a real estate empire worth $650 million. Aikman, who I believe is the best NFL analyst, earns $7.5 million per year as Fox lead analyst.
The common thread is, quarterbacking America’s team adds incredible off-field and post-career earning potential. Current Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will
eventually profit from this dynamic.
Romo has certainly benefited from being at the right place at the right time.