ESPN will be home to the new Monday Night Wild Card Game starting this postseason, the network announced today.
It’s part of a new deal that will see ESPN utilizing Monday Night Football presentation for the new Monday game, and comes after ESPN added a Divisional Round game starting in 2023 in the last round of negotiations.
From ESPN’s announcement:
The Walt Disney Company and the NFL have reached a five year rights agreement for ESPN to present the Monday night Wild Card game beginning with the 2021 season and continuing through the 2025 season, announced today by Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, at the CAA World Congress of Sports. The inaugural Monday night NFL Wild Card game will be played on January 17, 2022, (8:15 p.m. ET), marking the grand finale of the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend and the first scheduled weekday prime time NFL Playoff game.
To launch the new initiative, ESPN’s MegaCast production will provide fans multiple ways to watch. ABC and ESPN will air the traditional telecast with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters and John Parry on the call. On ESPN2 and ESPN+, Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli will be available and ESPN Deportes will air the Spanish-language telecast. Additional MegaCast production offerings will be announced at a later date.
The Monday Night Wild Card game will be streamed across devices on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ABC and NFL digital properties, and on mobile via Yahoo Sports and the mobile properties of the two participating teams.
The 2021 season’s Wild Card game will be ESPN’s eighth NFL Playoff game, having begun airing an annual Wild Card game following the 2014 regular season. Beginning in the 2023 NFL Season, ESPN will add an NFL Divisional round game to its postseason slate, while continuing to air its existing Wild Card game.
Considering how frayed NFL-ESPN relations were not that long ago, this is really quite a turn of events. It makes sense for everyone, too; if there’s going to be a Wild Card game on Monday night and ESPN is getting a Wild Card game, putting it on the network that airs Monday Night Football all season is a logical conclusion. ESPN has also wanted a Divisional Round game for a while now, and this gets them back in that rotation as well, albeit not for a couple of years.
Plus it means we get Peyton and Eli breaking down a playoff game, which feels like a win for viewers.