April 18, 2005

Are You Ready for Less Football?: Monday Night Football is moving to ESPN with the 2006 season, ending a 35-year-run on ABC, a deal that will take the games off broadcast TV for all but local markets. Sunday night games also are moving to NBC in the TV deals.

posted by rcade to football at 05:54 PM - 54 comments

I like ESPN's Sunday night coverage and dislike ABC's Monday night broadcasts, so in theory I should applaud this move. But somewhere the Ghost of Howard Cosell is crying. I blame Dennis Miller and ABC's brief flirtation with Rush Limbaugh.

posted by rcade at 05:58 PM on April 18, 2005

I blame the scheduling. as much fun as the Miami over NE upset was, to keep ratings up, they've got to show games with some playoff implications.

posted by markovitch at 06:07 PM on April 18, 2005

ESPN's Sunday Night coverage is okay so long as you put it on mute. I certainly hope they get a new announcing crew.

posted by holden at 06:19 PM on April 18, 2005

Why fix something that's not broken? MNF has been an ABC broadcast since the year I was born! Obviously they've been doing something right all these years...I'm not a big fan of ESPN's Sunday coverage...This is gonna be a hard one to swallow...My father is rolling over in his grave...

posted by fairydust at 07:45 PM on April 18, 2005

I always think of MNF as a sort of Wide World of Sports. The fans of the Big Fat Teams get to whine, "Aw, who gives a rat's ass about curling?", but the curling fans get to have their one game a week, and so what. IOW, I don't think it's gotta be games with playoff implications; everybody oughta get to see their team play on Monday night, not just Big Fat Teams.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:54 PM on April 18, 2005

I always was a big fan of MNF on abc will they be changing the announcing crew?? not a big fan of ESPN sunday night but nothing a mute button couldn't fix. But I have always enjoyed ESPN MNF preview show that was good went in depth about match-ups if they combine these two which I heard they are going to then it should make for a good combo. ESPN will have everything soon anyway so we might as well sit back get cable and just deal with it.

posted by bballcoachreid at 08:38 PM on April 18, 2005

I was most surprised to hear that NBC will be taking the Sunday night games. Since when do they care about non-Olympic or non-equestrian events? With the disaster that was the XFL still in the memory of many it is hard to think of NFL and NBC. This part of the deal must have been to keep some games on broadcast television.

posted by geekyguy at 08:59 PM on April 18, 2005

geekyguy -- NBC had the rights for the AFC up until about 1998, and it was a big deal when NBC lost its NFL package. So I think NBC is just getting back into the game after being outbid in years past.

posted by holden at 09:19 PM on April 18, 2005


posted by POOP at 09:28 PM on April 18, 2005

I think MNF left the rails when Miller came aboard. At least up until that point, the show was nominally about the game. Miller took the focus away from the field and turned it in other directions. I actually really enjoyed Miller just because he so completely befuddled not only the beer-swilling public, but his own broadcast team. However, ABC never brought the spotlight back to where it belonged -- the game. All the stupid intros, insipid theme songs and ridiculous sideline reports in the world aren't going to overshadow the fact that you a) have some lousy games on the air and b) aren't doing a whole lot to make the NFL look good. Hopefully ESPN will be the beneficiary of a better schedule, and what the hell -- ABC and ESPN are the same damned thing anyhow. On preview: Poop, I hope Joe Namath plants a big one on you.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:30 PM on April 18, 2005

I thought the headline meant FSC was changing strategy already, good thing I was wrong!

posted by billsaysthis at 10:42 PM on April 18, 2005

Wow, geekyguy. NBC had AFC football for my entire sports-conscious life up to 1998. Hearing the network mocked as the Olympics and equestrian channel makes me feel old. I shall wear the bottoms of my football pants rolled.

posted by rcade at 10:55 PM on April 18, 2005

Ok. I should have said hard to think of the NFL back on NBC. I am an AFC team fan and I also used to tune in but for the last few years it has been all Olympics and Derby's.

posted by geekyguy at 05:42 AM on April 19, 2005

Do I dare to eat a peach?

posted by yerfatma at 07:02 AM on April 19, 2005

I shudder to think who NBC will have announcing those games. Al Michaels and Madden are presumably under contract with ABC, so wouldn't they make the move to ESPN? I've always liked the Sunday night crew, particularly Mike Patrick, but he's been an ESPN guy for as long as I remember. As for the idea of MNF no longer being on an over-air broadcast, should the NFL even care? What percentage of their viewership aren't using cable or satellite?

posted by YukonGold at 07:02 AM on April 19, 2005

Both these deals are good for a few reasons, the first being both networks will ultimately get some flexibility on the games they show, making later-season, meaningful games more likely to get moved to the prime time spots. Second, I'm glad they'll be bumping up the starting time of the Monday night games a bit so they don't start at 9:10 EST and end at around 12:30 a.m., like they do currently. Lastly, hopefully this will lead to John Madden being put out to pasture. There's so much better talent than him around sports television right now. Maybe he can latch on as Brett Favre's press agent for the QB's last few years.

posted by dyams at 07:24 AM on April 19, 2005

I really like the idea of the NFL putting good games in prime time. In the DC area, the only games we get to watch are the Ravens & Redskins. Some weeks I would be lucky to get to watch one good game. As for the broadcasters, I am hard-pressed to think of who I would want NBC to use. Who are great football announcers who are not constantly dumbing down the game?

posted by bperk at 07:37 AM on April 19, 2005

Madden is the modern Frankenstein - we created him, and he cannot be destroyed. Personally, I think you just unplug his mic and keep paying him - no one will be the wiser; least of all him.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:38 AM on April 19, 2005

I blame starting at 9pm on a work/school night on the east coast. I don't bother getting interested in the Monday night game because I know I won't be able to stay up to watch the end. And the stats for my fantasy league will be posted whether I watch it or not.

posted by scully at 09:15 AM on April 19, 2005

Worst MNF broadcaster ever: Eric Dickerson

posted by mayerkyl at 09:42 AM on April 19, 2005

I like the announcers on ESPN it took me a while to appreciate Theismann but now I do. Their crew has been together for a long time. I didn't say they were better than Michaels and Madden though.

posted by warriorsrise at 10:47 AM on April 19, 2005

Why are we forcing people to have cable? My elderly father loves MNF and cannot afford cable. You've taken it away from him. Shame on you money hungry jerks. If Joe Theisman remains as commentator for Monday nights as he is for Sunday nights...you've lost me too.

posted by woolfy at 10:48 AM on April 19, 2005

Hopefully they won't bring Madden with them. Loved him as a coach but some of the stupid comments he makes makes you wonder if he ever coached.

posted by scottypup at 10:54 AM on April 19, 2005

woolfy, can't your Dad just watch Sunday night games instead. They're now on NBC. I guess what I'm saying is I don't know how this is less football.

posted by 86 at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2005

Sure he can. But it's not Monday Night Football. MNF adds another "day" to the football watcher. Obviously MNF is a big deal....not Sundays. Look at all these comments.

posted by woolfy at 11:14 AM on April 19, 2005

Fair enough. I was just throwing it out there.

posted by 86 at 11:40 AM on April 19, 2005

Just another reason to raise the cable bill! Somebody has to support all these over priced M.F.rs. Now we can look forward to clicking on to ESPN and reading blacked out in your area. It goes on in Baseball, and Hockey. Just look what the coverage did for hockey! It's going to be either pony up the cash or watch NASCAR.

posted by volfire at 01:07 PM on April 19, 2005

How many cities have NFL blackouts? Phoenix? That's all I could think of. While I feel for Woolfy and his Dad's plight, that's probably the margin that they're most willing to part with. ABC clearly wants to have different programming on Monday Nights, remember ESPN is ABC at heart so it's not like they're losing the money. They probably also had the leverage necessary as the only carrier of MNF's history to keep it in house (i.e. away from NBC). All of this is definitely fueled by the fact that MNF's ratings are on the decline and unfortunately it hasn't been as important as it was in the past. The national 4 o'clock game is clearly the most "important" game of the week now.

posted by YukonGold at 01:39 PM on April 19, 2005

How is the swich resulting in LESS football?

posted by tex4th1 at 01:53 PM on April 19, 2005

How is the swich resulting in LESS football?

posted by tex4th1 at 01:53 PM on April 19, 2005

YukonGold -- this site suggests it's a lot more than Phoenix getting blacked out, although I couldn't find anything more authoritative. Saints, Charger and Raiders also seem to get blacked out a fair amount.

posted by holden at 01:54 PM on April 19, 2005

If its off broadcast TV, then why not MNF uncensored? I should be a soulless network executive. Players can be miked so we can hear everything on the field, no delay - no bleep, and there are no holds barred in the booth... hell why not? Its not like kids are up that late and if they are then they can learn some new words. (I'm only kidding here, but someone probably did pitch that).

posted by chris2sy at 01:55 PM on April 19, 2005

MNF Will never get blacked out on ESPN who are you guys kidding?

posted by tex4th1 at 01:57 PM on April 19, 2005

You could be living in the milehigh parking lot and still see the game.

posted by tex4th1 at 02:01 PM on April 19, 2005

How is the swich resulting in LESS football? One out of five Americans still doesn't have cable or satellite TV. Those people will only see Monday Night Football games when their local team is playing.

posted by rcade at 02:10 PM on April 19, 2005

On what channel will they air their local team abc?

posted by tex4th1 at 02:33 PM on April 19, 2005

Before we know it, most pro sports will be "pay-for view"

posted by daddisamm at 02:38 PM on April 19, 2005

rcade and all, There will NOT be less football. Currently there is one national cable game a week on Sunday night and one national network game a week on Monday. People who dont have cable now only get one game. In 2006, there will still be one national cable game a week and there will still be one national network game a week. Just like now, people without cable will only get one of those games. Same amount of football, all they have done is swapped days.

posted by Chain Linq at 02:48 PM on April 19, 2005

Holden - that's really interesting, are all those games that are highlighted getting blacked out? Anyone living there who can attest first hand? I don't have anymore than the most basic understanding of what the rule is. The Steelers being under capacity, nevermind getting blacked out seems like something that wouldn't happen.

posted by YukonGold at 02:55 PM on April 19, 2005

YukonGold -- I'm not sure how to read that chart either. But my understanding of the blackout rule is that a game must be sold out 72 hours prior to game time or else it will be blacked out. So some of the games may eventually sell out in the last three days before the game, but they can still be blacked out. The numbers on the initial chart I linked to may be the 72 hour mark numbers. Here's the page I got that from, by the way.

posted by holden at 03:08 PM on April 19, 2005

There will be less football in my house, thank god. We don't have cable so we won't get MNF, and we don't get good reception for the station getting SNF, so we won't have that, either. I'm jumping for joy. Poor msacheson though!

posted by aacheson at 03:24 PM on April 19, 2005

Snorkling Hiking Camping.Not really sports aacheson.Golf takes skill but a sport? Snowboarding takes some skill but a sport?You would sift straight through any and every sports Filter. And who or what is msacheson?

posted by tex4th1 at 03:38 PM on April 19, 2005

tex4th1, this one is for you.

posted by dusted at 03:51 PM on April 19, 2005

And who or what is msacheson? A slightly different string. Or were we not talking from the database's perspective? Ah, the Glory Days of the NFL blackout rules, back when I was in college in Rochester and we used to count down the hours until blackout, hoping against hope the Wegmans' owners wouldn't buy out the remaining Bills tickets and we'd get to see the Pats.

posted by yerfatma at 03:53 PM on April 19, 2005

tex4th1 are you real or a mirage? I haven't decided if you are real or not...or a trick...or an alter ego...or even a doppleganger. On preview: nice Dusted. Very timely.

posted by chris2sy at 03:53 PM on April 19, 2005

tex4h1, we should totally hang out!

posted by A Complete Loser at 06:04 PM on April 19, 2005

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot. - Groucho Marx

posted by dusted at 06:41 PM on April 19, 2005

Of course, this doesn't appear to be a big religous group here...but many will NOT be able to see the Sunday night local channel game because they'll be at evening church service. Another reason for the appeal of a local channel Monday night game.

posted by woolfy at 07:26 PM on April 19, 2005

So the people who don't get cable and don't get ESPN won't get the Monday night game. But the past few years, as well as next year, they never got the Sunday night game on ESPN, but got the Monday night game on ABC. So, when NBC has the Sunday night game and ESPN has the Monday night game, those people who don't have cable will have the same amount of games, but on different nights. I guess you just have to look at it that way, and understand that a few years down the road most games will be on ESPN, the NFL Network, etc., so people without cable will be completely left out. Pro sports is a tough gig for network TV stations. ABC would rather offer "Desperate Houseskanks" to viewers and not deal with sports, especially when they are partners with ESPN. I don't know what NBC is thinking, only that they are struggling to get people to view anything they offer.

posted by dyams at 09:21 PM on April 19, 2005

All this blackout krap is a plot to confuse and defraud the proletariat.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:51 PM on April 19, 2005

If you don't have cable or satelite by now I think it's time to come out of the cave Osama and join the rest of us in the 21st century. I can't beleive any SPORTS fan would still be watching only 4 channels. What sport are You watching Fear Factor or The Bachelor?

posted by cheifsfan at 11:32 PM on April 19, 2005

In the D.C. area, Sunday night Redskins games on ESPN are also shown on the local ABC affiliate. But, what makes satellite a necessity is that CBS won't show a game when the Redskins are playing and FOX won't show a game when the Ravens are playing. Is that sort of non-competition required by NFL rules? It is not like they put real programming opposite the games. It is usually old M.A.S.H. episodes. As a result, relying on network television means that you miss some really great NFL games.

posted by bperk at 07:41 AM on April 20, 2005

I believe so, same thing in Boston. No game opposite the Pats, when applicable. It's really only a problem when Fox has the doubleheader and (your team) has a 1 o'clock game. Try living in Connecticut though...Giants, Jets, and Pats are all local teams.

posted by YukonGold at 08:00 AM on April 20, 2005

face it, MNF has never been the same since the 1970's and Howard, Frank and Dandy Don Merideth. Never. The ego tripping and bluntness of that trio with Frank trying to hold it all together was pure fun in itself and often overshadowed a boring game. ABC tried to reinvent that with bringing in Dennis Miller a few years back. Now we have boring but classy Al Michaels and buffonish Madden(whom I enjoy). Now that is probably gone. ESPN SNF isn't bad, I personally like Thiesmann for his honesty and candor..Mcguire should STFU because where is his cred? And the fat commentator guy(forget his name) is good too. But making people get cable to see the American Pastime is BS! It is purely a marketing move. Not right. At least get rid of the commercials if we have to buy cable! It is a sad day for the legend that was MNF.

posted by bluekarma at 11:12 AM on April 25, 2005

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