The XFL promises to ‘reimagine’ the game of pro football. One way Vince McMahon’s reborn league might do it is by having female announcers call games from the broadcast booth.
“We want the best broadcast teams possible and, of course, we’d welcome women in the booth,” Jeffrey Pollack, the XFL’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement to Front Office Sports. “What matters to us is talent, a love of football, and passion for the XFL. Gender should have nothing to do with it.”
The XFL estimates there’s a target market of 38 million fans, irregardless of gender, who have an interest in spring football. The NFL has previously that 45% of its fanbase is female. The new league is planning to work hard to attract female football fans in particular, Pollack said.
“We’re going to be reaching out to new fans, and female fans, in new ways,” said Pollack. “We want to bring as many people into this great game as we can, but our initial focus is existing football fans who want more.”
Having full-time female announcers calling games, either as a play-by-play announcer or game analyst, would help the XFL stand out from the NFL, where female pros such as Lisa Salters and Josina Anderson of ESPN, Erin Andrews of Fox Sports, Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports and Tracy Wolfson of CBS Sports are limited to sideline reporting duties. But that’s starting to change.
ESPN has asked play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins to call Monday Night Football games the past two seasons. She became the first female announcer to call an NFL game in 30 years.
Last year, Andrea Kramer and Hannah Storm made TV history as the first female duo to call NFL games. The two TV veterans called Thursday Night Football games for Amazon Prime Video’s live streaming coverage.
XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck says the league will largely leave casting and production decisions up to its TV partners at ESPN and Fox. In its previous iteration, the XFL announcing team featured pro wrestling voices such as Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross alongside a mix of veteran and young broadcasters, such as current ESPN MLB play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian.
Both networks confirmed they’re considering full-time female announcers for their XFL broadcast booths, not just on the sidelines, when the new league kicks off in February 2020. Both stressed, however, that the casting process is its early stages and no decisions have been made yet.
“Our folks are looking at everything,” said an ESPN spokesman. “They want to be as smart and innovative as possible. All ideas and approaches are on the table, including commentator decisions.”
A spokesman for Fox said the network is open to using any talented broadcasters who are “passionate” about the game of football and the new XFL.
Many TV announcers, both men and women, are volunteering for the XFL gig both inside and outside ESPN and Fox, said sources.
Why not? Despite the failure of every previous spring football league, broadcasters are intrigued about calling XFL games.
A new league means new jobs. It also is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something new. Imagine being a key member of the announce team that could actually makes spring football a lasting, long-time sport?
When Luck told FOS that he liked the announcing work of Fox’s Joel Klatt, the commissioner got immediate feedback on Twitter.
“I believe @XFL2020 can and will be a success…Would love to be involved,” tweeted Klatt.