ESPN and the NFL announced an eight-year rights extension on Thursday that will keep Monday Night Football on ESPN through 2021 and will increase the number of NFL-related shows on the network significantly.
The agreement, which begins in 2014 at the end of the current deal, also includes more broadband rights for ESPN.com and ESPN mobile platforms, increased international rights and the option to carry a wild-card playoff game on ESPN if the NFL decides to.
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.
ESPN first agreed to a deal with the NFL in 1980 to cover the draft. It started covering regular-season games in 1987 with Sunday Night Football and moved to Monday Night Football in 2006. Eight of the top 10 programs in cable history (excluding breaking news) were NFL games on ESPN.
"Today, we've secured cable's most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights," said ESPN/ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer. "It will help grow our business well into the next decade. 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."
Among the immediate additional NFL offerings on ESPN will be an extra hour of Sunday NFL Countdown, beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Sept. 11. In addition, NFL Live will expand to an hour each day throughout the year, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
A new daily show -- "NFL 32" -- debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 13 on ESPN2. Suzy Kolber and Chris Mortensen, along with other analysts, will dissect the biggest topics of the day from all 32 NFL teams.
"NFL Kickoff" begins on Friday, Sept. 16 on ESPN2, and will help set up the weekend with a look at every matchup.
"Audibles," which debuted on a limited-run basis last year, will be a Thursday night staple on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET and will feature new ESPN NFL analyst Jerry Rice along with Steve Young, Keyshawn Johnson, Herm Edwards and Trent Dilfer.
There will be additional NFL highlights on nearly 30 additional ESPN shows, plus ESPN.com and Mobile ESPN.com.
"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 sports."