“Monday Night Football” (MNF) will remain on ESPN for the next decade, through the 2011 NFL season. ESPN and the NFL announced an eight-year extension of the current contract.
The new multiplatform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV and ESPN.com, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights.
Terms were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reported that ESPN will be paying the NFL $1.9 billion per year, up from the current $1.1 billion.
“Today, we’ve secured cable’s most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights. It will help grow our business well into the next decade. No one has the breadth of worldwide media assets or the ability to monetize a property the way ESPN can, particularly with Monday Night Football and our complete NFL coverage,” said ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.
“We are proud to extend our three-decade partnership with ESPN,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have come a long way together since ESPN first televised the NFL Draft in 1980. With this new agreement we are excited about the opportunity to take the NFL-ESPN partnership to innovative new heights in serving the most passionate fans in sports.”
According to ESPN, the extensive package of NFL rights will fuel the continued growth of ESPN year-round, boosting its core television business while at the same time supporting the company’s “best available screen” strategy with NFL programs on TV, online and on mobile devices via authentication and digital rights. Outside the U.S., ESPN will televise MNF and other regular season games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl in 30 million households in 144 countries and territories across five continents, including Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Israel, Australia-New Zealand, and Continental Europe. The agreement also provides the NFL with an option to air a postseason Wild Card playoff game on ESPN should the NFL decide to do so.
Monday Night Football debuted in 1970. After a 36-year run on ABC, the series moved to ESPN in 2006 as part of a landmark eight-year agreement. During the past five seasons, ESPN’s MNF has become the most-watched series in cable television history, registering eight of cable’s 10 all-time biggest household audiences and 16 of the top 20 (excluding breaking news). In 2010, MNF ranked eighth among all primetime programs (broadcast or cable), averaging 10.5 million homes (14.7 million viewers), an unprecedented achievement for a cable television property. In addition, an estimated 140 million people viewed MNF and NFL studio programming on ESPN/ESPN2 over the course of the 2010 NFL season.