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The broadcast network, which had several NFL matchups on its slate already for the fall, will simulcast the remaining portion of the MNF schedule (10 games’ worth) with ESPN. The move will likely increase Monday Night Football’s overall audience over games that are only on ESPN — the Sept. 11 season opener on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 drew the biggest audience since the franchise’s move to cable — and will also complete what had been a rather fluid ABC schedule for the fall, as it and other networks try to program a full week while writers and actors remain on strike.
ABC simulcast the MNF season opener on Sept. 11 with ESPN and will air one half of a two-game Monday slate each of the next two weeks and on Dec. 11. It was also previously scheduled to simulcast games on Nov. 20 and Dec. 25.
In addition to the Monday night games, ABC will simulcast a primetime game on Saturday, Dec. 30 and a doubleheader on Saturday, Jan. 6, in the final weekend of the NFL’s regular season. ABC and ESPN will also carry playoff contests on Jan. 15 and Jan. 20 or 21 (all of which were previously announced).
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at broadcasters beefing up their NFL programming during the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes. “NFL content is the best reality television going — I know people say I script the season, but I don’t,” he told The Hollywood Reporter for a recent cover story. “There’s going to be opportunities during this period of time, which is unfortunate, but it exists, and I think our content is going to have more opportunities during this fall season. It’s reliable content, and it’s reliable from an advertising standpoint.”
ABC was the exclusive home of Monday Night Football from its inception in 1971 through 2005; it moved to Disney sibling ESPN in 2006. The broadcast network has returned to the MNF fold a handful of times in the past couple of seasons, simulcasting a few games over each of the prior three seasons and airing exclusive broadcasts on doubleheader nights in 2022 and this year.
The network had an opening on Mondays after shifting Dancing With the Stars to Tuesday nights, one of several schedule moves ABC has made in the past few weeks. ABC is relying solely on unscripted, news and sports programming for the fall as the writers and actors strikes have put a stop to production on scripted series. The two unions are seeking better pay and residuals, protections against artificial intelligence encroaching on their jobs and more transparency with streaming data, among other things, from Disney and other companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
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