ESPN to simulcast wild-card game on ABC

When ESPN televises its next wild-card playoff game in January 2016, the game won’t be broadcast only on a four-letter network. The game will go three-letter, too.

ESPN has announced that it will simulcast the postseason contest on ABC, which is commonly owned with ESPN by Disney. While that necessarily will undermine ESPN’s ratings, it will increase the total audience — further confirming the NFL’s desire to put significant games on free broadcast TV.

Despite the many technological gains of the last 40 years, millions of Americans still get the bulk of their boob-tube programming from rabbit-ear antennas. While cable may pay better since their justify increased subscription fees paid by cable and satellite providers, broadcast brings maximum eyeballs to the party.

That’s why it’s difficult if not impossible to see the NFL making a dramatic change in its current TV model when the current contracts expire in 2022. Ultimately, the biggest games will get the biggest audiences on free, over-the-air network TV.

Besides, yanking big games from broadcast TV could eventually persuade Congress to strip the NFL of its broadcast antitrust exemption, which allows the league to require networks to buy games involving all teams and not just the games that would generate the highest ratings.

20 responses to “ESPN to simulcast wild-card game on ABC

  1. It’s about not aggravating cord cutters. Live sports are the main thing people give up when they replace cable with Netflix, Hulu, etc.

  2. I kicked my over priced cable to curb and won’t go back. If the NFL wants to keep putting more and more games on channels people have to pay extra for the pleasure of seeing advertisement slots they make billions on already…..well, I guess I’ll miss a few games (err commercials). Oh well, their loss.

  3. Can’t the NFL just contractually require a network to carry all games? Why the need for an exemption?

  4. Counterpoint: If NFL games are only on cable, the nation’s overall work productivity and marital healthfulness will avoid their usual September-to-January struggles.

  5. For once I DO want Congress to intervene – and completely strip ALL NFL broadcasting rights from ESPN.

  6. The more I learn about cable and networking companies, the more I think time is moving backwards into the twentieth century…

  7. So ESPN and ABC will be showing the Bengals losing a Wildcard game AGAIN? Got it.

  8. schmitty2 said:

    “So ESPN and ABC will be showing the Bengals losing a Wildcard game AGAIN? Got it.”


    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Best Comment of the Day.

    *golf clap*

  9. 2yrs since I last had cable. I get 1080p HD reception from 2 military-grad antennas i bought ($40/ea) for my two LEDTVs. Combine that with AppleTV, my lineup is ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, The CW, ESPN, HBO, FX, USA, TBS, History, TNT, and a few others.

    Now I realize the only thing people pay for with cable is to watch reality tv trash, with part of that money paying the trashy people these trash shows are following around.

    Time for cable companies to realize consumers want to control what they want to watch, not offer them 1,000+ channels with 990 channels of pure crap.

  10. No they will be showing the patriots now. There is a high probability that’s the seed they get.

  11. Now can we get the same for college bowl games please?

    New Year’s day is supposed to be hours and hours of football.

  12. Two weeks after NFLN stopped simulcasting Thursday Night Football on CBS last season, I sent a letter to Bob Iger (yes, in a stamped envelope) politely asking him to bring Monday Night Football back to ABC.

    I included Nielsen ratings demonstrating the obscene difference in viewership of TNF before and after the simulcast agreement ended (viewership dropped by ~66%). I pointed out how TNF destroyed all other broadcast network ratings while on CBS. And that the network line-ups on Monday nights were somewhat weak, so it’s prime time to take ownership of Monday nights.

    Then I made the capitalistic argument that there is a lot of money to be made in ad revenue if MNF was to be simulcasted on ABC.

    He didn’t write me back.

    But he obviously understood the horrible ratings he got by putting a playoff game behind his walled garden. It was a mistake, and now he’s fixing it.

    Now he just needs to understand that the walled garden hampers Monday Night Football viewership as well, and in turn, hampers his company’s profits.

    So send Bob Iger a polite letter. The more letters he gets, the more he might consider simulcasting MNF at it’s old home.

  13. Count me as one of those possessing the rabbit ears.

    To watch the AZ-CAR wild card game last season I went to a bar. Living in NC, I hated watching with the place full of Panther fans getting it their way as their team won.

    With this news of the 1st wild card game being simulcast on ABC, I most welcome that. Now that means ABC will be showing its first NFL game since SB 40 as each of the 4 broadcast networks gets to show a wild card game if you think about it, which has never happened before.

    Speaking of Super Bowl, I wouldn’t mind ESPN bidding for one as long as it’s shown on ABC.

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