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Flex Option For ‘Sunday Night Football’ To Start 6 Weeks Earlier As NFL Unveils 2014 Schedule

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 5:06pm PDT

nfl-logo1The NFL is coming off most-watched program in U.S. TV history with the Super Bowl, and its just-released 2014 schedule arrives today with a couple key differences from last year – one of which is bound to make NBC execs smile. The league said that its “flex” scheduling for the Paeaock’s Sunday Night Football games can begin as early as Week 5, moving up from Week 11 in the past. That means the NFL can move any scheduled day game into primetime to air on what has been the No. 1 show in primetime viewership for four consecutive years and tops in the adults 18-49 demo for six straight. But there is a catch: The flex option can be exercised only twice between Weeks 5 and 10, whichSunday_night_football means Fox or CBS won’t have to give up their best matchups every week during that span. The flex-scheduling say-so remains with the league, which must make the call no fewer than 12 days ahead of time. (Regular Sunday night flex scheduling remains in play after Week 10.) Meanwhile, the NFL also is introducing a plan to “cross flex” Sunday day games on CBS and Fox, which have over-the-air rights to the AFC and NFC, respectively. In previous years, a game between two AFC teams had to be on CBS, but now the league can choose to move those games to Fox (and vice versa). This could help during weeks when one network happens to have the potentially biggest games.

Related: ESPN To Air Cable’s First NFL Playoff Game

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘The Voice’ Hits Performance Finale Low, ‘Almost Human’ & ‘Mom’ Down To Low, ‘Mike & Molly’ Up

ALMOST HUMAN DEC 16Just over a week before those presents under the tree are opened, Tuesday’s primetime was full of holiday specials and more year-enders but not a lot of cheer for some. Almost Human (1.6/5) wrapped up the first part of its first season as the only original on a holiday animation heavy Fox. The freshman futuristic cop show from JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions was down 11% from its December 10 show to hit a season low. Almost Human returns on January 6.

There was a lot of Christmas in the air but no noticeable androids on NBC on Tuesday as the network blasted out another full night of singing. There were also some low notes. With its penultimate episode of Season 5, The Voice (3.3/9) saw all four coaches belting out some Def Leppard with some of the British rock band on hand. The final trio of contestants also took to the stage one last time before a winner is declared on tonight’s finale. While the highest-rated show of the night, The Voice dipped 6% from last voice dec 16week. No big whoop on one level but that slight downward turn also resulted in the show’s lowest performance finale ever. Last night’s show was down 21% from last year’s Season 3 equivalent show on December 17 and down 11% from the Season 4 comparable show on June 17 … Read More »

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Dan Dierdorf Retiring From Broadcast Booth After NFL Season

By | Wednesday November 20, 2013 @ 3:34pm PST

The burly, mustachioed color man who followed a Hall of Fame football career with a three-decade stint in the broadcast booth is hanging up his microphone. Dan Dierdorf will retire from CBS after this season, his 43rd connected to the National Football League. After a 13-year stint as an offensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals, he began his announcing career with CBS Radio in 1984, moving to the TV side the following year. He left CBS in 1987 for ABC, where he did color for Monday Night Football until 1999 and also covered NCAA games, boxing and the 1988 Winter Olympics. He has been with CBS for the past 14 years. Dierdorf’s often brusque, call-it-like-he-sees-it style earned him plenty of detractors — snarky L.A. sports radio legend Jim Healy famously referred to him as “Dan Dierdork” — but in 2008 he became one of only four Pro Football Hall of Fame players to receive the Hall’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for excellence in broadcasting.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Almost Human’ Down In Move To Monday

By | Tuesday November 19, 2013 @ 9:46am PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: Sleepy Hollow went up a tenth in the finals to 2.6, as did NBC’s The Voice (to 3.5). The NFL-inflated Dancing (2.0) dropped .3, Castle (1.9) dived .4.

PREVIOUS: With football season in full swing, the top attraction on TV last night was ESPN’s Monday Night Football game between the Patriots and Panthers, which drew a big 11.2 overnight rating, up 42% from last Monday and the second highest this season. Surprisingly, the big game had little impact on most shows, including Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (2.5 in adults 18-49), which matched its fast national from last week, and the entire CBS comedy block as all half-hours were even with last Monday. But Fox’s new drama Almost Human (2.2) tumbled 29% in its move to Monday after a Sunday premiere behind an NFL double-header. A drop had been expected, but this is likely more than Fox brass had hoped for as the Sunday debut also faced an NFL game in the second half-hour. On the bright side, Almost Human still outperformed Fox’s Monday 8 PM slot by 5% and held its audience from the first to second half-hour. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE UPDATE: ESPN Wins Night As ‘Monday Night Football’ Hits New Highs

UPDATE, 3:30 PM: The final numbers are in, and it was a touchdown for ESPN last night. The sports network’s Monday Night Football doubleheader not only took Monday primetime among all broadcast and cable networks in key demos and viewers but also set some opening-game records. The Philadelphia Eagles’ 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins pulled in a 10.1 rating last night. That 6:58-10:45 PM ET game was watched by 16.52 million viewers, another record for MNF since its 2006 debut on ESPN. The Eagles-Redskins game hit its peak from 10-10:15 PM with a 12.7 rating and 20.92 million viewers. The previous ESPN MNF season-opener record holder was the 2010 New York Jets-Baltimore Ravens game, which got a 9.4 rating and had 14.97 million viewers.

Related: Arsenio Hall Gets Good Sampling In Return To Late-Night TV
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RATINGS RAT RACE: Presidential Debate Battles Football, Baseball; ‘Voice’ Drops

By | Tuesday October 23, 2012 @ 9:32am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Last night, President Obama and Mitt Romney faced their biggest debate challenge yet. No, it wasn’t moderator Bob Schieffer’s questions or trying to restrain themselves from punching each other when seated within arm’s reach. For the first time in three Presidential and one Vice Presidential debate, it aired against football: Monday Night Football on ESPN. To make things even more competitive, the San Francisco Giants needed a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series to clinch a spot in the World Series, so the debate faced that face-off too on the East Coast. Because the NCLS went the distance, Fox did not carry the debate last night, the first time it’s done so this fall. Because of that, cume ratings for the third Presidential debate on the broadcast networks are running down double digits from the second debate in early estimates. Time-adjusted ratings for the debate will be available in a few hours. (UPDATE: Fox News set a viewership record.)

To accommodate the debate, NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Dancing With The Stars were condensed to an hour, running from 8-9 PM. For Dancing (2.4/6), that actually boosted ratings as the dancing competition rose 14% from last week’s two-hour edition. However, ABC carried an NFL game in Detroit, so the the network’s fast nationals are likely inflated. The Voice (4.2/11) suffered from going down to one hour, dropping 29% from last Monday’s 8-10 PM telecast. It also was down 10% from its Tuesday edition last week, which, like last night’s episode, aired from 8-9 PM. Read More »

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Monday Night Football’s Officiating Farce

By | Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 4:20am PDT

This already is the best sitcom or reality show around. The NFL replacement refs may even exclipse the start of the Fall Primetime Season for comedy of errors. If you missed Monday’s hilarity, the Seahawks beat Green Bay 14-12. But after a Hail Mary pass, two replacement refs standing side by side made opposite calls. Meanwhile, here’s my favorite tweet about last night:

@AlbertBrooks: Oh my God. I just realized I know the ref that made the call tonight. He’s my accountant.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Rules’, ‘Parks & Rec’ Hit Lows; ‘Grimm’ Does OK In Thursday Test

By | Friday December 9, 2011 @ 11:59am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Another hard-to-untangle night, marked with local NFL preemptions. CBS posted big gains at 9 PM and 10 PM but they will likely be erased in the finals because the network’s fast nationals were inflated by a big football game in Pittsburgh. The Big Bang Theory (4.7/14) was the least impacted as the game started at 8:25 PM on the East Coast. The comedy returned after three weeks of repeats down 11%. Rules Of Engagement (3.2/9) was also down 11% from its last original three weeks ago to post a season low. Because of the game, Rules will likely be adjusted down, so the season low is expected to stick. Not expected to stick are the double-digit bumps for Person Of Interest (3.0/8, up 15% from three weeks ago) and The Mentalist (3.0/8, up 20%), which reflect game-related ratings inflation. For now, CBS is tracking as No.1 in 18-49 and total viewers for the night.

After an uptick last week, NBC’s soon-to-be-benched comedy Community (1.5/4) was down 12%. Parks And Recreation (1.7/6) was down 6% for a series low. The Office (2.9/8) and Whitney (1.9/5) were flat, tied with their season lows. With little promotion, a special airing of Grimm (1.6/4) in the 10 PM period matched the show’s most recent 18-49 delivery in its regular Friday 9 PM slot 3 weeks ago. It was up 23% from Prime Suspect‘s demo performance last week to post NBC’s highest 18-49 rating in the Thursday 10 PM hour in 11 weeks. Another Grimm original airs tonight. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: CBS Series & NBC’s ‘Rock Center’ Rise, Fox Dramas Slide

Nellie Andreeva

CBS’ Monday lineup posted across-the-board gains for a second straight week. How I Met Your Mother (4.5/12 in adults 18-49, 10.4 million total viewers) was up a tenth in 18-49 from last Monday, 2 Broke Girls (4.8/12, 11.7 million) was up 7% from its fast national last week to post its best 18-49 rating in the 8:30 PM slot, Two And A Half Men (5.3/12, 14.6 million) was up 4% to once again rank as the top program of the night in 18-49, and Mike & Molly (4.4/10, 12.2 million) was up 5%. Hawaii Five-0 (3.3/8, 11.5 million) flourished without scripted broadcast competition in the 10 PM hour, up 10% in the demo from its fast national last week to post its best demo and total viewer number since the season premiere. Hawaii will likely tie its season-high opener in the finals if it’s adjusted up a tenth as it normally is. CBS (4.2/10, 12 million) easily won the night in 18-49.

NBC’s Rock Center With Brian Williams (1.3/3, 4.5 million) last night boasted the biggest news “get” of the moment, an exclusive interview with former Penn State football coach and accused child molester Jerry Sandusky. The one-on-one with Bob Costas boosted the struggling newsmagazine to its highest rating to date, up 30% from the 1.0 Rock Center posted in its first two weeks. Still, the show was dwarfed in the 10 PM hour by another newsmagazine, ABC’s special edition of 20/20 (2.8/7, 13.4 million) featuring Diane Sawyer’s interview with recovering shooting victim U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, as well as CBS’ Hawaii Five-0. Rock Center also ranked as the lowest-rated program on the Big 4 networks, and its fast national numbers may have been inflated by a local NFL pre-emption in Minneapolis, so an adjustment down is likely. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Series Rebound From Halloween Drops, ‘Rock Center’ Stays At 1.0

Nellie Andreeva

After Halloween festivities pushed TV usage and ratings down last Monday, most series rebounded last night. Fox’s family-friendly Terra Nova (2.6/6 in adults 18-49), which was hit hardest by trick-or-treating, posted the biggest week-to-week gain, 24%. House (2.7/6) was up 8%. (The two dramas also led all series in Live+3 increases for their Halloween episodes, up 48%.) Fox finished third for the night in 18-49.

Topping the night in that demo was CBS (4.0/10 in 18-49, 11.4 million viewers). How I Met Your Mother (4.4/12) and 2 Broke Girls (4.5/11) were both up 7% from their fast nationals last week, Two And A Half Men (5.1/12) was up 9% to rank as the top program of the night in the demo, and Mike & Molly was up 11%. Hawaii Five-0 (3.0/8) was up a tenth from its fast national, flat with the final. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: NBC’s ‘Rock Center’ Starts Low, ‘Castle’ Up In Sea Of Declines

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Brian Williams’ new primetime newsmagazine Rock Center appears not to be the answer to NBC’s ratings woes. Halloween played a ratings trick on the new show, which opened with a low 1.0/3 in 18-49 and 4.1 million viewers at 10 PM last night. That is below the average for the canceled The Playboy Club that Rock Center replaced (down 38% in the demo from The Playboy Club premiere last month) and lower than the performance of NBC’s veteran newsmagazine Dateline on the less-trafficked Sunday night. It marked NBC’s lowest Monday debut ever. Rock Center‘s lead-in, The Sing-Off (1.4/4), was down 7% from last week to log its lowest rating ever. NBC (1.2/3, 4.3 million) once again finished fifth on Monday among adults 18-49 behind the other major English-language broadcast networks and Univision. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Broadcasters Hit By Baseball Overrun/Football Double Whammy

Nellie Andreeva

This was supposed to be Fox’s strong baseball postseason year as it’s the network’s turn to carry the American League Championship Series, a big audience draw with marquee teams the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. But both the Yankees and Red Sox were eliminated early, and now the ALCS has been hit with bad weather. Game 2 was rained out Sunday, leaving Fox scrambling to fill primetime with repeats at the last minute. And then a 52-minute overrun from the rescheduled Game 2 wreaked havoc on the network’s Monday primetime lineup, with both rookie Terra Nova and veteran House significantly impacted. The currently available non-time-zone-adjusted fast nationals for 9-10 PM (2.6/6), where most of Terra Nova aired, and 10-11 PM (2.3/6), where the bulk of House ran, are both expected to rise in the finals.

It was a rough night all around as the broadcast networks had to deal with baseball overrun as well as a strong Monday Night Football game on ESPN, where the Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions posted a 11.3 metered market average, the second-best rating so far this season. ABC’s Dancing With The Stars (3.1/8, 17 million total viewers) was flat with last week but may end up being down in the finals. ABC’s fast nationals were possibly inflated as the network’s Detroit station carried the football game. That doesn’t bode well for Castle (2.4/6, 10.2 million), which currently runs 8% below its fast national from last Monday. ABC (2.9/7, 15.1 million) seems on track to top the night in total viewers, while CBS (3.9/9, 11.1 million) is projected to win in 18-49. Read More »

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UPDATE: ESPN Drops Hank Williams Jr Permanently; Singer Says It Was His Call

By | Thursday October 6, 2011 @ 8:14am PDT

UPDATED: ESPN cut Hank Williams’ traditional lead-in song from last week’s Monday Night Football telecast after the country singer compared President Barack Obama to Hitler during a spot on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends. He apologized the next day. But today, the sports network owned by ABC has severed ties altogether via a curt statement this morning.

“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”‬

According to Williams Jr’s blog, it was his choice, not the network’s, to part ways “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision,” he wrote in a post dated today. “By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.” The Grammy winner’s song had been a part of the MNF telecasts since 1991 on both ESPN and ABC.

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Hank Williams Jr Apologizes For “Dumb Statement” Comparing Obama To Hitler

Hank Williams Jr apologized on his website today for using an odd President Obama/Adolf Hitler analogy. Williams’ comments on the Fox News Channel show Fox & Friends yesterday got him in hot water, and ESPN yanked his theme song from Monday Night Football over the controversy. Williams wrote the following message to his fans:

“I have always been very passionate about Politics and Sports and this time it got the Best or Worst of me. The thought of the Leaders of both Parties Jukin and High Fiven on a Golf course, while so many Families are Struggling to get by simply made me Boil over and make a Dumb statement and I am very Sorry if it Offended anyone. I would like to Thank all my supporters. This was Not written by some Publicist.” — Hank Williams Jr

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Hank Williams Jr Song Pulled From ‘Monday Night Football’ After Singer’s Obama Remark

Tonight’s Monday Night Football game will not be preceded by Hank Williams Jr’s famous opening song. ESPN pulled the opening after Williams compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler this morning on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends. ”While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football,” ESPN said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.” ”All My Rowdy Friends” has been the MNF theme song on both ESPN and ABC for the past 20 years.

Williams says his comment about Obama was misunderstood. On Fox & Friends he said he thinks House Speaker John Boehner playing golf with President Obama “would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. … In the shape this country is in?” (Boehner and Obama played golf together this summer during the debate over the budget crisis.) Williams released the following statement through his publicist: “My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president.”

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Ratings Rat Race: ’2.5 Men’ Still Big, ‘Terra Nova’ Premiere Just OK, ‘Playboy’ Dives

Nellie Andreeva

PREMIERE WEEK: Comedies In Comeback, Dramas Mixed While NBC & CW Struggle
CBS’ comedies stayed red-hot in Week 2 of the season. Two and a Half Men (7.2/17 in adults 18-49, 20 million viewers) was down 30% from its gigantic season premiere for a demo number that is still way higher than any scripted series can score in Live+Same Day these days. It boosted the second-season premiere of Mike & Molly (4.9/11, 14 million) to series highs in 18-49 and total viewers, up 26% from its series premiere last fall. At 8 PM, How I Met Your Mother (4.4/12, 10.6 million) continues to excel in its seventh season, down only 6% from its biggest season premiere ever last week. 2 Broke Girls (4.5/11, 11.6 million) settled nicely in its new 8:30 PM slot. It was down 37% from its big debut behind Men last week but did something that CBS hammock shows have rarely done — build on its HIMYM lead-in. At 10 PM, Hawaii Five-0 (3.3/8) was down only a tenth from its season premiere last week. CBS (4.6/11, 13 million) won every half-hour in primetime in both 18-49 and total viewers.

The two-hour premiere of Fox’s dinosaur drama Terra Nova drew a 3.0/7 and 9 million viewers, which was OK but slightly below expectations. In its defense, the male-skewing drama had to face the Washington-Dallas Monday Night Football game on ESPN. And it stayed consistent throughout the night, logging a 3.0 rating at 8 PM, 8:30 PM and 9 PM and climbing to a 3.1 at 9:30 PM. Speaking of the MNF game, it drew a 11.9 metered market household average. UPDATE: In the finals, Terra Nova was adjusted up to a 3.1 rating in 18-49.

NBC’s Monday lineup already started very low last week. It dropped even further last night. The Sing-Off (1.7/4) was down a relatively modest 11%, but The Playboy Club (1.3/3) plunged 19% to reach Lone Star ratings levels and join fellow new NBC series Free Agents on the cancellation block. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Bachelor Pad’ Rises, ‘Kitchen’ Slips, ‘Miss Universe’ Hits Low

By | Tuesday September 13, 2011 @ 8:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NFL games last night had opposite ratings effects on Fox and ABC in the fast nationals. Airing against Monday Night Football, Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen (2.4/6) at 9 PM was down 11% from last Monday, which was Labor Day. Still, Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition was the top-rated program of the night among adults 18-49. It was preceded on Fox by a Hell’s Kitchen rerun. ABC’s fast nationals got a boost from football as the network’s numbers are inflated due to local NFL pre-emptions. With that in mind, the finale of Bachelor Pad (2.3) was up 21% from last Monday and 28% from last summer’s closer, though some of the gains will be shaved off in the finals. With a Bachelor Pad final regular episode at 8 PM (2.2/6) leading in to the two-hour finale, ABC topped Monday’s total viewer and demo standings in the fast nationals. Over at NBC, the Miss Universe Pageant (1.6/4) was down 16% from last year to log the franchise’s lowest rating ever. The CW turned on the lights last night ahead of the network’s fall launch tonight. The Gaga by Gaultier special drew 1.4 million viewers at 8 PM, the channel’s largest audience since May.

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Pay TV Companies Say ESPN Fumbled With Its $15B NFL Deal

ESPN is already starting to face a major backlash from pay TV providers and some Wall Street analysts to yesterday’s $15B deal extending its rights to Monday Night Football for eight years to 2021. The agreement – which is at least 60% higher than the previous deal — “will push the cost of pay-TV service into the stratosphere, making the product less and less affordable during a time of severe economic stress and high unemployment,” says Matthew Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association, a trade group for small and mid-sized operators. His main complaint is that ESPN requires distributors to offer the channel in the most popular expanded basic package which means “consumers with no interest in sports are required to subsidize the sports fan.” ESPN and ESPN2 represent about 20% of a typical pay TV provider’s wholesale programming costs even though the channels just appeal to 2.5% of the viewers, Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett says in a new report. If you throw in other services, including regional channels, then about $12.15 — more than half of the average monthly wholesale programming payments — go for sports. Moffett figures that pay TV subscribers would have to pay an additional 67 cents a month just to cover ESPN’s additional new football costs. The price would rise to 78 cents if Dish Network drops the Disney-owned sports channel, something that the satellite company’s chairman Charlie Ergen has threatened to do. … Read More »

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UPDATE: ESPN Leaves Open Possibility Of Price-Hike Battles Following $15B ‘Monday Night Football’ Renewal

UPDATE, 9:10 AM: There will be “no NFL surcharge” on cable and satellite companies as a result of the  Monday Night Football renewal deal, ESPN chief George Bodenheimer said in a conference call today. But he didn’t rule out the possibility that ESPN will cite the NFL agreement to seek higher payments for its channels when the company renews its contracts with cable and satellite companies. “The fee that we ask of our affiliates is based on the overall value of the ESPN service,” he said, adding that “this agreement enhances our value to our affiliates.” Bodenheimer hasn’t spoken to operators yet about the new terms but wishfully predicts that “this will be received very well by our distributors.” Research firm SNL Kagan says that pay TV companies typically pay $4.34 per month for every subscriber who receives ESPN and ESPN HD, $2.55 for ESPN 3D, and 58 cents for ESPN 2.

Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang says that the new deal will increase ESPN’s football-related programming costs by about 6% a year — a slower pace than the previous contract. But the company’s pay TV deals grow about 4% a year.

Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says that he’s open to bringing playoff games to ESPN. But he adds that contracts with other broadcasters run through 2013, and he’s now negotiating renewal terms.

PREVIOUS, 6:53 AM: The new agreement will cost ESPN 73% more than its previous NFL deal, The New York Times says. That likely means the Disney-owned sports channel will ask cable and satellite companies to pay more — which could lead to some big fights: ESPN is already the most expensive basic cable service, and operators resent the roughly $4 per subscriber per month they have to shell out for what’s considered must-have programming. ESPN’s new NFL deal includes additional football-related shows and updates including streaming to Verizon phones. Some terms kick off immediately: Today, ESPN’s NFL Live expands to an hour from a half hour. A discussion show based on fan-submitted questions, Audibles, also joins the Thursday night lineup. This weekend, Sunday NFL Countdown will run three hours, up from two. On Tuesday, ESPN2 will introduce a weekly, hour-long show NFL 32, followed on Friday by another weekly hour-long show NFL Kickoff. Here’s the official release:

Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports media history, will remain on ESPN through the 2021 NFL season under a new eight-year agreement between ESPN and the National Football League, it was announced today by ESPN and ABC SportsPresident George Bodenheimer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The broad multiplatform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights.

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