Nobody will confuse Monday’s regular-season matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles with a title game. But it provides a roadmap of how ESPN and Disney will approach their first Super Bowls after the 2026 and 2030 seasons.
Disney is collectively throwing the kitchen sink at tonight’s game with more reporters and cameras, high-tech drones and day-long cross-promotion across ESPN and sister media properties.
Eli Manning previewed the Super Bowl rematch on Disney sister network ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Former ESPN anchor Robin Roberts threw it to GMA reporter Will Reeve on-location in Kansas City for an interview with “No. 1 football Mom” Donna Kelce.
Mike Greenberg touted the “Game of the Year” on his “Get Up” morning show. It continued with “NFL Live,” “Monday Night Countdown,” and Scott Van Pelt’s “SportsCenter” all on-site from Arrowhead Stadium
It will end with ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Nightline” interviewing MNF’s announce crew of Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and Lisa Salters in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Given the programming and promotional blitz, ESPN might kick off its first Super Bowl pregame show weeks in advance.
“We have had this game circled since the schedule release in May,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN’s senior vice president of programming. “Not only is it the Super Bowl rematch, but there are abundant storylines to be told from within and around the game. We have multiple shows, from across Disney, producing content from Kansas City and will continue with previews right up to kickoff.”
NFL broadcasters typically don’t deploy two sideline reporters unless it’s a big playoff game or Super Bowl. But Salters will be joined on the Eagles sideline by “NFL Live” anchor Laura Rutledge.
Aikman, Buck, Salters, Rutledge, and officiating analyst John Parry will have the main game call on ESPN — while Peyton and Eli Manning will be joined by college basketball superstar Caitlin Clark, Mark Wahlberg, and Michael Vick on Omaha Productions’ “ManningCast.”
The game will be shown across five Disney platforms: ESPN; ABC; ESPN2; ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+. It could top the record 22.6 million viewers for this year’s season opener between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets: the most-watched MNF in ESPN history.
ESPN will use eight 4K/UHD cameras and 16 super slow-motion cameras positioned throughout the stadium. Look for a drone and overhead plane to be added to the coverage mix, too.
In some ways, Disney’s strategy mirrors its dual approach to NFL Draft coverage, where ESPN delves into the X’s and O’s while ABC focuses on human interest stories.
ESPN’s studio shows will feature gridiron-focused interviews with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce and Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, while ABC sat down with Donna Kelce and Jason Kelce’s wife, Kylie Kelce.
Are ESPN and Disney going overboard? Of course. But that’s how they like to roll. And why not? ESPN has never televised the Super Bowl in its 44-year history. Disney hasn’t televised the Big Game since the former ABC Sports showed the 2006 Super Bowl.
Just a few years ago, ESPN never would have gotten a matchup this good from the NFL. But chairman Jimmy Pitaro has spent years repairing the network’s once-frayed relationship with the Shield. The payoff comes tonight.
As ESPN’s top Insider Adam Schefter noted, the Chiefs and Eagles boast a combined record of 15-3. They enter tonight’s game as the AFC and NFC’s 1-seeds. The only time the same two teams played in back-to-back Super Bowls was the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills in 1992-1993.
In short, Chiefs vs. Eagles is not only the top game on ESPN’s MNF schedule year but, arguably, the best game on paper for the entire regular season.
As Greenberg noted: “This matchup is last year’s Super Bowl — and could easily be this coming year’s Super Bowl.”