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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

‘Monday Night Football’ Returns To ABC Amid Entertainment Breakdown

  • Actors/writers’ strike in Hollywood limiting entertainment content.
  • ABC will simulcast 15 MNF regular season games with ESPN.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
ESPN Images.

With the actors/writer’s strike in Hollywood slowing new entertainment inventory to a trickle, legacy networks are turning to an old standby: live sports. 

The Walt Disney Company’s ABC will simulcast 15 regular season game telecasts of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” this season. Before the season, the strategy was to simulcast five regular season games. If you count the two playoff games, the sister Disney networks will share 17-game telecasts.

The goal is to provide viewers with as much original programming as possible during the ongoing work stoppage. 

With ESPN’s MNF drawing its biggest audience ever in Week 1, it’s also a way to cross-promote ESPN and Disney properties. The New York Jets’ wild overtime win over the Buffalo Bills drew a record 22.64 million viewers in Week 1.

All told, there will be 25 games telecast this season across the two sister Disney networks. They will include a doubleheader Monday night, a doubleheader next week, and two playoff games. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

  • 15 simulcasts on ABC. 
  • 4 exclusive games on ABC
  • 3 exclusive games on ESPN. 
  • 2 playoff games simulcast on ABC and ESPN.
  • 1 exclusive game on ESPN+.

The strategy will effectively make MNF a weekly staple of ABC programming again for the first time since the prime-time show’s heyday in the 1970’s, noted ProFootballTalk.

Most of the MNF games are expected to return exclusively to ESPN next season, with select simulcasts on ABC.

Launched by the former ABC Sports, MNF aired on ABC from 1970 to 2005. It’s been on ESPN since the 2006 season.

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