Monday Night Football has aired on cable since the 2006 season. But could that come to an end in the next round of rights negotiations between the NFL and its TV partners?
According to the Sports Business Journal, ESPN wants a lot of things in its next TV deal with the NFL – most notably, better games and a slot in the Super Bowl rotation. But the NFL won’t let the Super Bowl go to cable (for obvious reasons), meaning that to get into the rotation, ESPN will need to dangle the broadcast network in Disney’s vast portfolio of networks, which is ABC.
SBJ also notes that the reason for MNF’s substandard schedule is that the league considers MNF the league’s “cable package,” which is why the slate of games is typically worse than the other packages. In addition, SBJ’s sources think that by using ABC in their bidding, ESPN can get a better package of primetime games, be it on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday night.
This isn’t the first time that ABC has been mentioned as a potential home for the NFL, via ESPN. Last January, before Thursday Night Football landed with Fox, ABC was mentioned a potential suitor. Also, ESPN has simulcast the Pro Bowl on ABC in each of the last two years, has simulcast its NFL Wild Card game on ABC for the last four years, and will air both NFL Combine and NFL Draft coverage this year on the network.
If you have a broadcast network like ABC in your back pocket and you’re not using it, you’re just leaving potential viewers in the wind. It simply makes sense for ESPN to do this when the next round of TV rights negotiations comes around, and frankly, it’s something they should have started doing years earlier. Who knows, maybe this year, we’ll start seeing select Monday Night Football games on ABC.
Now, about the College Football Playoff…..