ABC will be airing a full season of Monday Night Football (MNF) for the first time in 17 years. The network will be simulcasting the remaining 10 games of the MNF schedule with ESPN. This move will likely increase the overall audience for Monday Night Football, as games that are only on ESPN may have a smaller viewership. The season opener on September 11, which was simulcast on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2, drew the largest audience since the franchise moved to cable. This decision to simulcast the games on ABC will also help complete the network’s fall schedule, which has been disrupted due to the ongoing strike by writers and actors.
ABC had already simulcasted the season opener and was scheduled to simulcast games on November 20 and December 25. In addition to these Monday night games, ABC will also simulcast a primetime game on Saturday, December 30, and a doubleheader on Saturday, January 6, which is the final weekend of the NFL’s regular season. ABC, along with ESPN, will also broadcast playoff contests on January 15 and January 20 or 21.
During the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at broadcasters increasing their NFL programming. He referred to NFL content as the best reality television, stating, “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.” Goodell emphasized the reliability of NFL content both for viewers and advertisers.
It is noteworthy that ABC was the exclusive home of Monday Night Football from 1971 to 2005. It moved to Disney’s ESPN in 2006. However, ABC has made several returns to the MNF lineup in recent years, simulcasting games over the past three seasons and airing exclusive broadcasts on doubleheader nights. The network had an opening on Mondays after shifting Dancing With the Stars to Tuesday nights. ABC has made several schedule changes recently as it relies solely on unscripted, news, and sports programming for the fall season due to the writers and actors strikes.
The strikes by the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are a result of the unions seeking better pay and residuals, protections against artificial intelligence taking over their jobs, and more transparency with streaming data. These strike actions have disrupted the production of scripted series, forcing networks like ABC to adjust their programming schedule.
In conclusion, ABC’s decision to simulcast Monday Night Football games with ESPN will provide the network with a full season of NFL coverage. This move is expected to boost the overall audience for Monday Night Football and help complete ABC’s fall schedule. Despite the strikes by writers and actors, ABC is relying on unscripted, news, and sports programming for the fall season. The ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA reflect their demands for better compensation and protections in the changing landscape of the entertainment industry.