NFL fans can relax Monday Night Football on ESPN is here to stay. Disney and the National Football League have reached a new 10-year deal to broadcast games and related content from the most popular professional sports league on Disney’s Network TV, Cable, and Streaming Service platforms.
The agreement, which begins with the 2023 season, was announced today by Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company, Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, and Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner.
Today the NFL also announced sports deals with Amazon, CBS, Fox, and NBC along with this deal with Disney.
“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”
With Disney and ESPN’s deal with the National Football League ending in 2022, and the NFL reportedly asking for double the current rate for a broadcast deal, there was some question as to whether a deal could be brokered.
The answer is an emphatic yes. This deal is even larger than before and will deliver 35% more regular seasons games across ESPN, ABC, and ESPN+.
Under the deal Disney will own the rights to the 2026 and 2030 Superbowls and will have 1 more exclusive playoff round game per season.
Perhaps the most valuable will be an increase in the flex scheduling for Monday Night Football making sure more of those matchups are between high quality teams fighting over valuable playoff spots.
The deal, of course, also includes key content devoted to ESPN+, Disney’s sports streaming service. Live Game Rights and NFL Primetime will appear on the service exclusively.
“This landmark agreement guarantees that ESPN’s passionate fan base will continue to have access to the best the NFL has to offer,” said Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Bringing all the considerable and unique capabilities of The Walt Disney Company and ESPN to the table opens up so many opportunities across our industry-leading direct-to-consumer, broadcast, cable, linear, social and digital outlets.”
“We are thrilled to extend and expand our partnership with Disney far into the future, as ESPN will continue to host cable’s most-watched series, Monday Night Football, and ABC is returning as a Super Bowl broadcaster,” said Goodell. “We look forward to working with Disney as they use new platforms, including ESPN+, in innovative ways to reach even more NFL fans.”
Chapek also offered, “Special thanks to Roger Goodell and the NFL owners for continuing to embrace new ways to appeal to their fans, especially through increasingly important platforms like ESPN+.”
ESPN and Disney recently secured a deal with the National Hockey League and they have a current deal with the NBA and MLB. So for those who were worried about ESPN not keeping up with the big leagues, put those worries to rest.
More details on this landmark agreement between Disney and the NFL
CBS, FOX and NBC will each televise three Super Bowls while ABC will carry two during the term of the agreements. The following is the Super Bowl broadcast schedule through 2033.
CBS: 2023, 2027, 2031
FOX: 2024, 2028, 2032
NBC: 2025, 2029, 2033
ESPN/ABC: 2026, 2030
Super Bowls Accentuate Expanded Postseason Offerings
ABC/ESPN will carry two Super Bowls (2026, 2030 seasons) as part of a rotation between the NFL’s media partners, marking the first time that an ESPN-NFL agreement included such Super Bowl rights. ABC last televised the Super Bowl in February 2006 (2005 NFL season). Also, ESPN will present more playoff action, adding an annual divisional round game to its schedule, which will continue to include a wild-card matchup.
ESPN+ Exclusive National Live Game Rights Strengthen Impactful NFL Streaming Content
A highlight of ESPN’s increased regular-season package will be one annual exclusive national game on ESPN+, the industry-leading sports streaming service. The game will take place internationally and will be aired live in the Sunday morning ET window. Additionally, this agreement allows ESPN the opportunity to simulcast all ESPN/ABC game telecasts on ESPN+.
Also included is rights for the return of ESPN+ NFL PrimeTime, the iconic NFL highlights show, each week on the streaming platform. NFL PrimeTime is the most-watched, non-game ESPN+ original program. Since its 2018 launch, ESPN+ has showcased a wide variety of top quality NFL content, including the highly-acclaimed Peyton’s Places, and the upcoming multi-part Man in the Arena series focusing on Tom Brady’s Super Bowl journeys. ESPN+ has grown to 12.1 million subscribers.
Monday Night Football To Include Three Weeks With Multiple Monday Games; Saturday Action Also Coming
ESPN will increase its regular-season schedule by 35% — six more games per year (from 17 to 23). It will include an ESPN game on Monday nights (including three weeks with a separate game on ABC), a Saturday doubleheader the season’s final week and the Sunday morning game on ESPN+. Monday Night Football, which has been aired on ESPN in primetime since 2006, remains cable’s most-watched series.
The added two Saturday games will take place during the final week of the regular season and will showcase matchups with playoff implications. Both of those games will be simulcast on ABC and ESPN.
Increased Quality for Game Matchups Via Added Flexibility and Team Appearances
The agreement includes new elements that will enhance the caliber of the Monday Night Football slate. First, the schedule will be more flexible than in years past with the ability for the NFL to swap a more meaningful game into the Monday Night Football slot with 12 days’ notice from Week 12 on. Additionally, top teams will appear more often, as a result of the agreement which provides ESPN the ability to showcase any four teams at least twice, leading to even more compelling games.
Comprehensive Highlights Rights, NFL Draft, Pro Bowl, Studio Shows, MegaCasts, International and More
As part of the agreement, ESPN will supplement its game coverage with the most extensive NFL content at scale across every available platform. Fueled by comprehensive NFL highlights rights, ESPN will continue to offer and/or develop NFL-branded programming (e.g. – NFL Live), pre- and post-game shows, news, analysis and highlights studio shows, storytelling vehicles, digital and social content and much more. It also includes data rights (e.g. – NFL’s Next Gen stats).
In addition, ESPN has once again secured rights to the annual Pro Bowl. Other key elements include opportunities for alternate telecasts (e.g. – MegaCasts), extending and expanding ESPN’s international rights (including areas in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Oceania, India), ESPN Deportes and more.
ESPN has also obtained rights to NFL Drafts, an event that has been an ESPN fixture since 1980, as part of the agreement.
The rights in this new agreement provide flexibility to maximize current and potential future distribution of ESPN.
2021 and 2022 Seasons
The 2021 season will be the last in ESPN’s current arrangement with the NFL. ESPN and the NFL have reached a bridge agreement for 2022 – the year between when the previous agreement expires and the new 10-year extension begins. For both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, all the foundational components from the agreement expiring in 2021 will be included (e.g. – weekly Monday Night Football games), in addition to select elements from the new 10-year agreement. For example, in 2021, ESPN will be adding the two Saturday games with playoff implications on the last weekend of the regular-season. For the 2022 bridge year, ESPN will showcase the two Saturday games with playoff implications on the last weekend of the season, a Sunday morning ESPN+ game and one ABC Monday Night Football broadcast on a week there is also an ESPN Monday Night Football telecast.
ESPN and NFL
ESPN has been delivering distinctive NFL content since its first calendar year. A combination of live NFL games (since 1987) and groundbreaking studio programming have led the way. Today, ESPN’s platforms provide in-depth, year-round coverage of the league, from NFL game action to special events, to news, highlights, analysis and storytelling