Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


-- television -- monday nights on espn

How odd...

Monday Night Football to leave ABC for ESPN / After 36 years, NFL showcase goes to cable
Steve Kroner, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Monday Night Football," the second-longest-running program on prime- time broadcast television, will leave ABC for ESPN at the start of the 2006 season in an eight-year deal worth a reported $1.1 billion a year.

"Certainly this is a milestone in the history of sports TV," George Bodenheimer, the president of both ESPN and ABC Sports, said in a conference call.

The NFL's Sunday night games will also migrate, going from ESPN to NBC, a network that has been without NFL football since 1997. The six-year contract will also get the network the rights to Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012....

Football certainly seems resistant to the rollback in rights fees that have affected much of the rest of sports these days.

That said, you wonder what Disney hopes to gain with this shift. Certainly it will be good for ESPN; it will also be bad for ABC. MNF content was sort of a no-brainer (literally, to judge by some of the matchups that got foisted onto the program in recent years). While ABC had to program primetime around MNF, they didn't have to program that two hour block itself. Granted, in recent years, finding a compatible and durable programming partner had become increasingly difficult.

The other puzzling thing is the move of Sunday night football to NBC. Many were predicting that the NFL would sell the rights to itself, seeing as its new NFL Network has what you might call a signal lack of real content. It would be a good way to pull viewers to a channel that otherwise seems to be languishing a bit. (And which is going to be largely ignored nine months a year anyway -- really, what on earth was the NFL thinking? They're going to have to pull Arena Football away from NBC and NFL Europe from ... whoever televises that -- to a largely unwatching audience -- in order to have enough content more of the year.)

With the shift of Sunday Night Football to NBC, it does seem likely that the writing is on the wall for Crossing Jordan and its other Sunday night broadcast partners. (Currently, "The Contender" but heaven only knows what normally leads into the show. Which is, of course, precisely NBC's problem.) They may look to shift Crossing Jordan to another weak night -- early Wednesdays may not be entirely unlikely -- but on the whole, one suspects that the show is likely gone. And, depending on the start time, it's likely to have an interesting cascading effect across most networks' primetime shows. "Extreme Makeover: Home edition" is a stereotypical "guy" show; how many viewers will desert it for the more traditional, if less inspirational, football? And how many of Desperate Housewives' viewers come from EMHE? If it starts in the early primetime spot, football won't do The Simpsons' any favors.

The results of this round of football tango will be interesting, indeed.

Posted by iain at 03:36 PM in category television