NBC viewers were already seeing a lot of Maria Taylor on Sundays. Now they can be assured of seeing even more.
Taylor, the up-and-coming sportscaster who left ESPN last year for NBC Sports, was named host of “Football Night in America,” the show that precedes “Sunday Night Football” and garners one of the network’s biggest weekly audiences. She becomes the series’ first full-time female host, and becomes the latest in an impressive series of sports announcers to fill the role, including Bob Costas and Dan Patrick.
Taylor picks up lead duties on “Football Night” after Mike Tirico was named to provide play by play on “SNF” following a decision by Al Michaels to jump to Amazon to call “Thursday Night Football.” Last year’s “Football Night” crew included Tirico and Taylor along with Tony Dungy, Drew Brees, Chris Simms and Mike Florio, with Jac Collinsworth and Rodney Harrison holding forth from the game site. NBC Sports has not announced a final lineup for this season’s show.
“Maria is the perfect choice to carry the legacy forward of anchoring the most-watched studio show in sports,” said Sam Flood, executive producer of NBC Sports, in a statement.
The announcement, part of a broader flurry of talent changes and tweaks at some of the nation’s biggest football telecasts, shows Taylor continuing to rise at NBC since her arrival in 2021. In the last 12 months, Taylor has hosted the Tokyo Olympics, and the pre-game shows for Super Bowl LVI. She is also in the midst of executive producing an eight-part documentary series on the history of the Black quarterback in the NFL that is expected to stream on Peacock.
In 2021, “Football Night” averaged 7.1 million viewers, up 18% compared with the previous season. But the show’s audience swells in earnest after 8 p.m., as the kickoff for “Sunday Night Football” draws closer. The show’s time in the first 23 minutes of the 8 p.m. hour drew an average of 11.9 million viewers last season.
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