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Thread: Monday Night Football moving to cable..

  1. #1
    Scrappy Spartan Broadway's Avatar
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    Apr 2004

    Monday Night Football moving to cable..


    NEW YORK -- The NFL's "Monday Night Football," a hallmark of television sports programming since the days of Howard Cosell, is leaving ABC after 35 years for ESPN starting with the 2006 season.

    The NFL's new broadcast deal also brings football back to NBC for the first time in six years. NBC will take over the Sunday night games previously broadcast on ESPN, and plans to use a flexible scheduling model that ensures meaningful games will played in that slot late in the season.

    The Monday night move to basic cable, which includes an earlier start time of 8:40 p.m. eastern, is expected to cost ESPN $1.1 billion over eight years, two sources familiar with the deals told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

    NBC will get the Sunday night package for $600 million over six years, according to the sources. The network will also get the Super Bowl in 2009 and 2012 as part of the deal, one of the sources said.

    The NFL will continue to show all cable games on free, over-the air television in home markets. That means that local stations will carry ESPN's Monday night games in the cities of the teams involved.

    The moves leave ABC -- which reshaped sports broadcasting by turning football into a prime-time ratings draw with the advent of "Monday Night Football" in 1970 -- as the only major network without NFL football.

    ABC and ESPN are both subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Co. The deal with ESPN, which currently carries games every Sunday night and sometimes on Thursday, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    "A great deal with the NFL is the best deal you can get in television," said NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol. He said the network hasn't started working on finding anchors for the Sunday night broadcast.

    "We're celebrating for a day," Ebersol said. "Then I'm sure we'll get a lot of calls."

    Last month, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said during the NFL meetings in Hawaii that the Monday night move was a strong possibility. ABC, which has been losing money on the package despite high ratings, had been balking at the NFL's asking price.

    NBC has been struggling in prime-time this season, and even risks an unprecedented fall into fourth place in the ratings. ABC's newfound ratings strength with "Desperate Housewives" on Sunday nights has been particularly damaging.

    NBC will devote its entire Sunday night prime-time lineup to the NFL. The Sunday night games will start at 8:15 p.m. eastern and include flexible scheduling for the final seven weeks of the season, details of which will be developed by the league.

    That issue has become more pressing since parity caused by the salary cap has resulted in teams moving up and down the standings annually, leaving bad teams that were strong the previous season in prime time and good teams that were bad the past season off of it.

    CBS and Fox already have agreed to pay a total of $8 billion over six years for the rights to Sunday afternoon games.

    The NFL is still considering an eight game late-season package of Thursday and Saturday night games on cable and satellite. Tagliabue has said the NFL's own new network could show some or all of those games.

    Just heard this on the news. I cannot even fathom there being no MNF on ABC.

    Are they doing this to avoid the FCC commercial hassles? (kidding)
    Never let the things you want make you forget about the things you have.

  2. #2
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    May 2003
    Dublin, OH
    I'm disappointed. There's enough football on Sunday already. I liked MNF, but we don't need Thursday night or anymore during the week.

  3. #3
    Cy Young 2010 Mariner's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    I don't mind the move to ESPN as it means ABC's Monday night primetime schedule won't be so funky anymore and those of us out West won't have to chase around whatever show ABC is showing at 8 pm Mondays on the East Coast or miss half of it when it gets joined in progress after the football game has invariably run late. Even though it's only 20 minutes earlier, I hate the new start time though. It's almost impossible to get home from work here in time for the game as it is.

  4. #4
    This doesn't surprise me at all:

    ABC is losing too much money on Monday Night Games, but on ESPN it will make a ton because Disney can charge cable operators out the wazoo.

    NBC had to get back in the NFL, mainly because they're not having it on Sunday afternoons since 1998 finally caught up with them this season.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner
    Even though it's only 20 minutes earlier, I hate the new start time though. It's almost impossible to get home from work here in time for the game as it is.
    I agree. I was befuddled by this passage from the following linked article, perhaps it'll make more sense to someone else....

    "Under the new contracts, Monday night games will start at 8:40 p.m. Eastern, and the Sunday night games will start at 8:15 p.m.

    Steve Bornstein, the league's executive vice president for media, said that with the larger prime-time audience on Sunday nights, West Coast ratings will not be hindered by fans who are still at work or trying to get home. "This takes out what has been an issue on a typical Monday workday," he said."


    They're talking about both Sunday and Monday night football in the article; the only way the above makes any sense to me is if I dismiss Monday night football from my mind, as starting the games 20 minutes earlier seems like it'll only make worse an issue they already acknowledge.

    I guess everyone is happy, though I'm unsure why ESPN is. They're paying almost twice as much as NBC will be paying for Sunday night games, certain in advance they'll never match the ratings ABC had, and getting no playoff games or Superbowls to boot. Still they sound like they're tickled pink. It's sad to see MNF go away, though it had seemed tired for a number of years and I always preferred NBC coverage.

  6. #6
    Cy Young 2010 Mariner's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Waiting for Spring
    Ummm, yeah that doesn't make sense Leftcoaster. It gives all us West Coast people something else to point to for the East Coast bias conspiracy theories though. On the bright side, at least they aren't moving the Monday games back to 5 pm which they did a few years ago. Why Sunday games need to be at 5:15 instead of 5 I have no idea.

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