ESPN and the Arena Football League have agreed to a new broadcasting deal beginning in 2014. This multi-year contract will annually place more than 10 regular season and postseason games on the ESPN dial and more than 75 games on ESPN3.
The latest contract between ESPN and the Arena Football League extends a storied partnership. ESPN televised the first ArenaBowl back in 1987 as well as games between 1995-99, 2000-02 and 2007-08.
Consider this a win-win for both sides. The AFL brings its content back to the largest sports network there is and ESPN adds another feather in its self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" title. ESPN director Matthew Volk stated that this new deal solidifies ESPN's year-round commitment to football. AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz commented that his league's move to ESPN shows how much the sport has grown.
Arena League broadcasts may not yield big numbers, but it will give ESPN yet another live event (a football one at that) to build around. ESPN's number one focus is football these days and they'll get any football rights they can get their hands on. As we've seen from the other competing sports networks, live programming is the key to moving the ratings needle.