Now batting for HBO, Joe Buck.
A day after it lost the longtime face of its sports coverage, the premium network has tapped Fox sportscaster Joe Buck to host a new sports-based talk show. The move by HBO comes just a day Bob Costas moved to MLB Network for a raft of on-air duties.
The development of Buck's new show is in the early stages, but is scheduled to debut in May. Although it will be sports-based, Buck, the play-by-play man for Fox Sports coverage of the National Football League and Major League Baseball, says the show will also feature comedy sketches and other elements.
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg expects to keep the live audience and town hall formats of Costas' signature program, Costas Now. HBO anticipates running about four episodes annually once the show becomes established.
"I am floored by the opportunity, flattered and so excited, I don't even think my wife believes I am going to HBO," Buck said on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.
Buck isn't entirely a stranger to the format. As first reported by Multichannel News sister publication B&C, he once hosted a pilot for a late-night talk show on Fox.
"It was a little different, and not what a network wanted in a late-night show," Buck said. "I am very fortunate that it ended up the way it did, because I could go to HBO which is a little freer and a little more liberating and let's me do things I couldn't do on a network."
The network is still working with Buck to develop the show's subject matter and content, as well as a name.
"I suggested to Ross that we keep [the name] Costas Now," Buck quipped.
"I was thinking more like Joe the Broadcaster or Joe The Plumber," Greenburg countered.
Greenburg says that they had been talking about developing a show for a couple of years, originating when Buck was recording the voiceovers for HBO telefilm 61*, Billy Crystal's ode to Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chasing Babe Ruth's then record home mark of 60 dingers in 1961.
Greenburg told Buck that if a slot opened up they would pursue it more seriously, and with the departure of Costas, the opportunity presented itself.
Buck will continue with his Fox duties: HBO plans to schedule the new show around his busy schedule.