Jumping the gun on the kickoff of the pro football season
Thursday night, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN unit has signed an extension with the
NFL that will keep Monday Night Football
on the cable channel for eight more years.
Just weeks after the end of a lockout that threatened
this season, the NFL has a new deal that will run from 2014, when the league's
current broadcast contracts expire, through 2021.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Sports Business Daily estimates the new pact is worth $1.8 billion annually.
ESPN's previous deal
was valued at about $1.1 billion a year.
The new deal is a multiplatform agreement that calls for
expanded studio programming beginning this week, highlight rights for TV and
ESPN.com, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights and enhanced international
"Today, we've secured cable's most valuable
television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of
year-round multimedia rights. It will help grow our business well into the next
decade," ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer said in a statement.
"No one has the breadth of worldwide media assets or the ability to monetize a
property the way ESPN can, particularly with Monday Night Football and
our complete NFL coverage."
Monday Night Football was launched in 1970 on ABC.
After running 36 years on broadcast, it moved to ESPN in 2006.
"We are proud to extend our three-decade
partnership with ESPN," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We have come a
long way together since ESPN first televised the NFL Draft in 1980. With this
new agreement we are excited about the opportunity to take the NFL–ESPN
partnership to innovative new heights in serving the most passionate fans in