NFL Announces TV Deals with ESPN/ABC and Fox
The NFL announced a new set of national television deals Thursday, keeping games on ESPN/ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, Amazon and NFL Network through the 2033 season.
The agreement keeps Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox, Sunday night games on NBC and Monday night games on ESPN, with some games also airing on ABC. For the first time, Amazon will be the exclusive home for Thursday night games, which will also be on over-the-air channels in the competing teams’ home markets. NFL Network will also air select games.
ABC picks up two Super Bowls during the deal — the first in 2026 — with the other networks airing three each.
ESPN’s package adds six games to the network during the season. There will be three Monday night doubleheaders — with games on ESPN, followed by a game on ABC. There will also be a Saturday doubleheader during the season’s final weekend and one Sunday morning game streaming nationally on ESPN+.
ESPN, which has previously aired a wild-card playoff game, will add one game in the divisional round as well.
For the first time, ESPN’s Monday Night Football will be able to “flex” games, starting with Week 12 of the season, to ensure better matchups. ESPN’s package also includes the ability to include four teams up to two times each.
ESPN will also continue to televise the NFL draft, as it has since 1980, and the Pro Bowl. NFL PrimeTime will also return to ESPN+ on Sunday nights, streaming throughout the week.
“When ESPN and the NFL work best together, the results are transformational for sports fans and the industry,” ESPN and sports content chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “Some of the most remarkable collaborative examples have occurred in the past 12 months and have demonstrated the extraordinary range of The Walt Disney Company that is fundamental to this agreement. There are so many exciting new components, including Super Bowls and added playoff games, new end-of-season games with playoff implications, exclusive streaming games on ESPN+, scheduling flexibility and enhancements, and much more. It’s a wide-ranging agreement unlike any we’ve reached with the NFL, and we couldn’t be more energized about what the future holds.”
Said Disney chief executive officer Bob Chapek in a statement: “This landmark agreement guarantees that ESPN’s passionate fan base will continue to have access to the best the NFL has to offer. Bringing all the considerable and unique capabilities of The Walt Disney Company and ESPN to the table opens up so many opportunities across our industry-leading direct-to-consumer, broadcast, cable, linear, social and digital outlets. Special thanks to Roger Goodell and the NFL owners for continuing to embrace new ways to appeal to their fans, especially through increasingly important platforms like ESPN+.”
ESPN has one more year on its current deal, and it added a bridge agreement for 2022. For the upcoming 2021 season, ESPN will add two Saturday games with playoff implications in the final week of the season. For 2022, those games will continue, and there will be the Sunday morning international game on ESPN+ and one ESPN/ABC Monday Night Football doubleheader.
The ESPN package also includes the ability to stream games on ESPN+, as well as one international series game on an exclusive national basis. NBC, CBS and Fox will also have the ability to stream games they hold the rights to.
NBC’s package also includes “flex” games, as it has in the past.
“We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”
Goodell also said the league plans to work with its partners to infuse legalized sports betting into broadcasts.
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