ESPN, ABC to simulcast NFL wild-card game in January 2016

NEW YORK -- ESPN's NFL wild-card game will also air on ABC this season, with the league looking to expand the audience a year after it televised a playoff matchup on cable for the first time.

The same broadcast will be shown on partners ESPN and ABC in January, the networks said Tuesday.

ESPN added a wild-card game last season under the NFL's new TV deals. As with "Monday Night Football," simulcasts aired on local channels in the two teams' home markets.

Now anyone with a TV will be able to watch. ESPN is in about 81 percent of U.S. homes with televisions.

Last season's wild-card matchup between Carolina and Arizona on ESPN averaged nearly 21.7 million viewers, down 21 percent from the same time slot on NBC a year earlier for a far more dramatic game between the Colts and Chiefs.

ESPN produces the sports broadcasts that air on ABC, these days keeping many of the biggest events on the cable network. January's wild-card telecast will be the first NFL game in a decade on ABC, the former home of "Monday Night Football."