ESPN first came to a broadcasting agreement with the NFL in 1980 to cover the NFL draft and by 1987 they had acquired the right to air Sunday Night Football. In 2006, ESPN made a big jump dropping Sunday Night Football and adding the big fish -- Monday Night Football.
That partnership will continue for the next decade. ESPN and the NFL announced on Thursday, the same day the NFL season kicks off, that the two sides have agreed to extend their agreement another eight years through the 2021 season.
The agreement includes 17 Monday Night Football games a season through 2021, an additional 500 hours of new NFL-branded studio programming (beginning immediately), extra highlights on all platforms, coverage of the Pro Bowl and NFL draft, the ability to show Monday Night Football and NFL studio programming on the WatchESPN app, and rights for ESPN Deportes and international networks, including regular season, playoff games and the Super Bowl in 144 countries.
The deal is reportedly worth $1.9 billion per year.
One of the most interesting parts of this is the digital section where ESPN can potentially show MNF games via broadband and tablets. ESPN could also broadcast a wildcard playoff game if the two sides agree to that. The league has never agreed to put playoff games off of broadcast television. ESPN also announced a slew of new shows in conjunction with the announcement of the new deal.