ESPN Adds Wildcard Playoff Game to NFL Slate

League exercises option in new rights agreement
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The National Football League’s new rights deals with its TV partners kick in this upcoming season and with that brings a few changes, one of which was officially announced Tuesday.

ESPN will air its first-ever playoff game during Wildcard weekend in January 2015. The rights agreement between ESPN and the NFL, which extends through the 2021 season, gave the league an option to air a postseason Wildcard playoff game on ESPN, which the NFL has opted to exercise Tuesday morning.

“We’re thrilled to televise our first Wild Card playoff game and we thank the NFL for the opportunity,” said ESPN president John Skipper (pictured). “This game will be among the highest-rated programs of the year on cable and it is compelling content that will help us better serve football fans during the postseason.”

ESPN’s Wildcard game will likely be one of the Saturday games, which NBC had aired since it regained NFL rights in 2006. NBC had already said it would be airing one of the Divisional Round games the following weekend.

ESPN also becomes the broadcaster for the Pro Bowl (which will be moved to the site of Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz.).

The NFL is expected to announce its 2014 schedule later this week.

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